The Norwalk Health Department is celebrating the American Heart Association’s push to move more during the month of April by helping Norwalkers find more opportunities to walk than ever before. Walking is a fun, easy way to be active and connect with your neighbors, especially through the NorWALKer program, which maps more than 40 safe, accessible walking routes in 17 Norwalk neighborhoods.
The Health Department, the Healthy for Life Project, and the Norwalk Bike/Walk Taskforce have teamed up to update and enhance the NorWALKer program, and community walking groups are emerging all throughout town. Utilizing NorWALKer routes, community walking leaders in three neighborhoods—Silvermine, South Norwalk, and West Norwalk—lead at least one walk each month in their neighborhood. Walkers meet at a central location and enjoy each other’s company while exploring their neighborhood on foot. In addition, Mayor Rilling and his wife Lucia walk each Saturday morning as part of their “Walk with Us” initiative. The Rillings choose a different NorWALKer route to explore each week and invite the public to join them as they tour the city.
Incorporating walking into your daily routine can help prevent or manage chronic health conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes and can boost your mood, improve coordination and balance, and strengthen your muscles.
“As part of the 2016 Community Health Improvement Plan, one of the Health Department’s goals is to help everyone get more physical activity,” explained Theresa Argondezzi, Health Educator. “For kids, the goal is 60 minutes every day, and adults should aim for about 30 minutes a day on most days. If we can fit a few walks into our week, we can get much closer to those recommendations, all while spending time outdoors, de-stressing, and exploring our communities.”
In addition to its growing popularity locally, the NorWALKer program is gaining praise on a national level. In September 2016, the program was recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony J. Foxx as a recipient of a Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets award for creating safe and accessible pedestrian networks. This Fall, Kaitlin Latham, Health Department Health Education Associate and NorWALKer coordinator, will be presenting on the success of the program at the National Walking Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Announcements about the “Walk With Us” program and the three NorWALKer neighborhood walks are posted on the Health Department calendar and the Healthy for Life Project Facebook page. For more information about the NorWALKer program, including access to all the NorWALKer maps, visit the NorWALKer page on the Health Department’s website.
If you are interested in forming your own neighborhood walking group, please contact Kaitlin Latham at firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or Deborah Lewis at email@example.com.
About the Norwalk Department of Health: Under the direction of the mayor, and with valuable guidance from its six-member Board of Health, the Norwalk Health Department provides a variety of services and programs to fulfill its mission: to prevent and control the spread of disease, promote a healthy environment, and protect the quality of life within its changing community. The Health Department achieved accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) in June 2014, demonstrating that it meets or exceeds national public health standards and commits to continuously improve the quality of the services it delivers. More information is available at www.norwalkhealth.com.
About the Healthy for Life Project: The Healthy for Life Project is a coalition of organizations, agencies, and community members from the Greater Norwalk area working to make their community healthier by encouraging people to Eat Well, Move More and Live Better. The Project originated from a comprehensive community health assessment and improvement plan conducted in 2012 by Norwalk Hospital and Norwalk Health Department. More information is available at www.healthyforlifeproject.org.
About the Bike/Walk Task Force: The Norwalk Bike/Walk Task Force was formed in 2014 by Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and is comprised of local residents and business owners charged with helping to make our streets and sidewalks safer for everyone. The Task Force’s mission is to create safe roads, sidewalks, and trails in Norwalk that make bicycling and walking desirable and easy while promoting healthy lifestyles. More information is available at http://www.norwalkct.org/bikewalk.