America Walks Workshops: Increasing Walking in Norfolk & Ashland

In August 2012, America Walks issued a call for community groups to apply to be a recipient of their Walking Action Network Community Workshops. As we told our readers in January, S & G Endeavors is working with America Walks to facilitate and plan for these workshops (eight in total).

In March, we facilitated two more America Walks workshops in Norfolk, Virginia, and Ashland, Kentucky.

Norfolk, VA

Picture: Norfolk group is hard at work creating their plan. The Norfolk group is hard at work creating their plan.On March 2, 35+ attendees came together for a four-hour workshop to create an action plan to increase walking in Norfolk. They began with a panel, allowing the group to incorporate the wisdom of Scott Bricker (Executive Director of America Walks), Amanda Lutke (of HDR Engineering), and Kevin Murphy (President of the Downtown Norfolk Civic League). Participants then helped the city prioritize initiatives to make Norfolk more walkable, and finalized the day by creating a draft action plan for each of their four initiatives. According to Katherine Goetz of the City of Norfolk, “the workshop built on the growing enthusiasm in our community for becoming more pedestrian-friendly. It was helpful to have members of the community bring their ideas to the table and build a plan for moving forward.” The city is working with the workshop planning team to finalize their action plans; we’ll keep you in the loop on their progress over the next months.

 Ashland, KY

Picture of Ashland group working on their PlanAshland group working on their PlanThe following weekend (March 8 and 9) 18+ participants met for 1.5 days to assist the Get Moving Ashland Partnership (between Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Coalition, Healthy Choices Kentucky and the City of Ashland) to create a full strategy and action plan to increase walking, biking, and wheeling in Ashland, Kentucky. Panelists included Dr. Ian Thomas (America Walks board member), Chuck Charles (Mayor, City of Ashland), Sean Murray (Parks Director, City of Ashland), Charles (Andy) Gilliland, MD (a local physician who dynamically encourages his patients to incorporate walking into everyday activity), and Katherine O’Nan (a student who showed her excitement for walking by explaining that focusing some effort on places kids walk is just one way to engage them in the movement). According to Laura Patrick of the Kentucky Heart Foundation, “the workshop brought together new partners and helped us to focus on creating a strategic plan for walking, biking, and wheeling. It also created a unified group excited about creating a healthier Ashland.” Ashland is planning to meet with the participants in April to finalize their strategy and expand their action plans to include resources and a timeline for accomplishing the plan; of course, we will keep you in the loop on their progress as well.

Reflections from Our Work

Congratulations to both communities and their workshop planning teams for their success. Participant evaluations for both events reflected higher awareness for efforts to increase walking in their community, recognition of the expertise shared by panelists, excitement stimulated by small group work, and feeling engaged and confident in the future success of the action plans created. It was my pleasure to work with these teams to deliver exciting plans to catalyze walking in both Norfolk and Ashland. Thank you!

America Walks’ Walking Action Network Workshops, produced through a funding partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association, are connecting local leaders and community members with the talents and expertise of America Walks on specific issues, as well as providing customized workshops that will result in a refined strategic action-plan for initiatives to increase walking and improve walkability. Other upcoming workshops are happening in Omaha, NE (April 5), Colorado Springs, CO (April 26), and Austin, TX (May 2-3) –link for Austin coming soon.

 Working with SGE

Interested in how strategic planning and meeting facilitation services by S & G Endeavors can help your organization take action, contact me for an initial consultation.

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