Physical Activity and Neighborhood Walkability
Physical activity is an important contributor to helping children and youth achieve healthy weights. However, children across the nation are not achieving recommended daily physical activity levels. Barriers to walking and biking and other forms of physical activity are more present in Chicago communities with higher rates of childhood obesity.
Communities, transportation officials, planners, health professionals, and governments should make promotion of physical activity a priority by increasing access to places and opportunities for such activity.
We have partnered with a number of community-based organizations and city agencies to help create and support programs and initiatives that promote safety and increase physical activity throughout the city. Such initiatives include Open Streets, Play Streets, and B-Ball on the Block, which convert streets into temporary physical activity destinations for community residents where park space is limited. Community groups across Chicago have used FAN’s Neighborhood Walkability Assessment Tool to identify and address barriers to walking and biking. As a result of conducting walkability assessments, groups are well positioned to strategize and take action to make built environment changes to their neighborhood streets.
Improving neighborhoods and communities so that they support and enable physical activity is a key strategy in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic. By providing a safe and secure environment equipped with the necessary infrastructure, communities can empower their residents to make active and healthy transportation choices.
To enable activity, sidewalks must be available and well maintained, street crossings properly marked and controlled, and parks outfitted with safe play equipment and free of illegal activity. Families must also feel confident that children can walk to school or play outside without fear of crime, violence or dangerous vehicle traffic.
Walkability assessments help recognize and document the characteristics that may be impacting how active residents are in a particular neighborhood. The Neighborhood Walkability and Accessibility Assessment Tool identifies the strengths and weaknesses of neighborhood walking routes and provides action steps that can help address neighborhood barriers. As a result of conducting walkability assessments, groups can emerge from the process positioned to strategize and take action to make built environment changes to their neighborhood streets and sidewalks.
To access our Neighborhood Walkability and Accessibility Assessment Tool app, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.