Wolf administration highlights grants to increase access to physical activity options

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The Wolf administration visited the borough of Mechanicsburg on Wednesday, one of eight communities receiving grants this year to help develop transportation opportunities and policies to increase physical activity.

“Having safe and convenient access to recreation areas like walking and biking is critical to keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Surgeon General Dr. Denise Johnson. “Physical activity can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and premature death. Being active also helps prevent weight gain, reduce depression, and improve cognitive function in older adults. We are proud of this collaboration and the grants awarded to support and encourage safe physical activity.

The grants come from the WalkWorks program run by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. This year, eight communities are receiving grants totaling $168,000. This program continues to benefit from its close partnership with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its generous funding from two of the grant recipients.

“Regular participation in outdoor recreational activities provides immediate and long-term health benefits,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Pennsylvania has a beautiful landscape to achieve these health benefits, and programs like WalkWorks are equipping more communities to have the closest safe and accessible routes. The DCNR is delighted to continue working through the WalkWorks program to support the development of community-level active transport plans and similar policies to promote outdoor physical activity across the Commonwealth.

This year’s winners are:

  • Chester County – Borough of Oxford: $25,000
  • Crawford County – Borough of Linesville: $3,000
  • Cumberland County – Borough of Mechanicsburg: $25,000
  • Dauphin County – Susquehanna Township: $20,000
  • Huntingdon County – Huntingdon County: $25,000
  • Northampton County – Bethlehem Township: $25,000
  • Washington County – Town of Monongahela: $25,000
  • Westmoreland County – Borough of Delmont: $20,000

With this funding, community leaders will work over the next year with transportation professionals and community planners to collect data, assess current conditions and aspirations, and incorporate public input to improve pedestrian, bicycle and of public transport.

“Our goal is to provide safe, accessible, and engaging active transportation options for everyone, not just the fit and fearless,” said Samantha Pearson, Healthy Communities program manager at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center and program coordinator. WalkWorks. “WalkWorks helps communities understand and apply transportation planning best practices and principles. With vehicle crashes causing increasing injuries and deaths among people walking and rolling, there is an urgent need for work across the country and in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvanians deserve safe access to transportation no matter how they travel,” said Andy Batson, PennDOT’s acting assistant secretary for multimodal transportation. “This initiative recognizes and invests in the inseparable link between community connectivity and the health and mobility of our citizens.

PennDOT released the 2019 Statewide Active Transportation Plan emphasizing active functional transport options as much or more than recreation/tourism and ensuring that these options are open to all. WalkWorks grants are intended to foster the necessary linkages and coordination between transportation policy and public health.

“The Borough of Mechanicsburg is honored to be one of the recipients of this grant,” said Mechanicsburg Borough Council Chairman Kyle Miller. “This grant will help us improve pedestrian potential in the borough and ensure that walkers can do so safely. We may also examine how to promote safe cycling on borough and state roads as well as develop safer connections between public spaces such as parks, schools and downtown businesses. This is essential as we continue our work to make Mechanicsburg a great place to live, work and visit.

“I encourage everyone to incorporate activity-appropriate routes into daily routines whenever possible,” Dr. Johnson said. “The WalkWorks program is committed to expanding walking, bicycling, accessibility and connectivity to public transportation across Pennsylvania. Together, we can encourage people to be healthier versions of themselves and further the department’s mission to create a healthy Pennsylvania for all.

Grant funding is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the State’s Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant Programs and Physical Activity and Nutrition Grant Programs, as well additional funding from the DCNR.

Grant recipients were selected from a competitive pool of high-quality applicants by a multidisciplinary review team that included representatives from the DOH, Pennsylvania Downtown Center, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and their assistance program. local technical department, the DCNR and the Department of Community and Economic Development.

For more information on WalkWorks, visit www.health.pa.gov.

Visit the Explore PA Trails and Get PA outside website for information on recreational resources near you.

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