Walking College Fellows are Changing Their Communities for The Better
Over the past five years, America Walks has graduated 118 Walking College Fellows with deep knowledge of the policy and environmental changes required to create safe, accessible, equitable and enjoyable places to walk and move. Each fellow developed a detailed and feasible walking action plan (WAP) that they started implementing in their home communities, covering 41 states, 2 Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and the island nation of Palau. Survey results of the first two classes indicate very promising community outcomes and underscore the value of providing intensive training and mentorship to emerging community leaders.
Fellows’ participation in the 2015 and 2016 Walking College reported a total of 441 defined outcomes ranging from organizing a community walkability audit, forming a new partnership or coalition , delivering a social media campaign, to getting sections of sidewalk constructed. According to the Fellows, their Walking College experience contributed “entirely” or “mostly” to 160 (36%) of these outcomes. That is over a third of these community changes would not have happened without Walking College fellows.
A surprising outcome was the total accomplishment of WAP’s primary goals by a few fellows including:
- Laural Ruggles from St. Johnsbury, VT established an official Walk Bike Advisory Committee for the Town Council
- Ann Mansfield engaged 8 rural hospital and 5 public health departments to participate in a communications campaign promoting walking and walkability in rural NE Iowa;
- Faye Paige Edwards convinced the St. Louis, MO Board of Alderman to adopt a Traffic Calming Ordinance.
Most significantly, the Walking College led to policy change in at least 20 communities, including the adoption of Vision Zero policies in Austin, TX and Blair County, PA, adoption of Complete Streets policies in 6 other towns; plus 12 other related policies (traffic calming, reduced speed limits, etc.). The entire report provides more details on the places and policies that Walking College fellows are changing.
Their efforts and resulting improvements are providing the community foundation for the continuous development of safe, accessible walkable places and can ensure that activity friendly routes are available in every community. We celebrate the impact of the first two years of the Walking College and look forward to continuing to document how these Fellows are changing the world.
Are you interested in joining the Walking College? Click here to learn more.
Check out more inspiring stories of Walking College Fellows and their critical work:
Building Walkable Cities Through Rising Community Leaders: The Walking College
After the Classroom: Walking College Case Studies
Walking College Walking Action Plans
Walking College Alum Continues Built Environment Advocacy
A Walking College Fellow Walks Past Cancer
Walking College Fellow Discovers How to Connect “All Things Walking”
Walking College Fellows Take Their Advocacy to the Big Leagues
Want to Make Things Happen? Go to a Planning Commission Meeting
One Walking College Fellow’s Winning Recipe for Walkable Suburbs