sedwards [at] americawalks.org
Since 2004, SteVon has been active participant in the health community, beginning in a leadership role in the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS) at the University of Louisville. In that role, she was able to chair the first Annual MAPS Health fair, which introduced minority pre-med students to several leaders and organizations working in healthcare across Louisville, KY and also established the organization as an important networking organization for rising medical professionals.
Although not initially viewed as public health, she began working with Community Farm Alliance, a statewide farmer advocacy organization based in Frankfort, KY, after graduating from the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences in 2008 with a Masters degree in Health Education and Behavioral Sciences. Through advocacy, she was able to work with several community partners around healthy food access and bridging the gaps between rural and urban food systems, which has become a major trend in public health.
She currently assists with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation healthy Kids, Healthy Communities grant in Louisville, with the goals of reducing health risks and disparities and promotion of health equity to decrease childhood obesity. Through this project, she learned more about walkability and walking access, while receiving training on health policy trends and implementation in our community.
She also learned the main concern of the community was violence prevention. “It is essential that a person feel safe enough to walk in their neighborhood. If you design and construct accessible walkways, but your neighbors don’t feel safe, you haven’t truly invested in the whole health of the community.” Through grassroots partnerships, she hopes to gather together youth and adults to walk together and eventually advocate together. “There are great advocacy groups meeting now, performing walkability assessments and meeting with their elected officials. There is much to build upon!”