America Walks is a charitable organization which exists to help people and neighbourhoods across the United States participate in the act of walking.
They are a nationwide non-profit group and work to represent citizens at a federal level, with the relevant agencies and departments.
America Walks is the sole body of its type, which is organized at a national level.
They help to give a voice to the communities of America, to ask for better – or even just any – walking facilities in those areas.
Part of their remit is to give the training, education, and assistance needed to all the local groups out there.
They are coordinators of the Every Body Walk! Collaborative. This strategy looks at promoting walking nationwide and also helping it become more visible and viable as an option.
Put simply, the overall strategy of America Walks is to get people walking!
WHAT IS EVERY BODY WALK?
Every Body Walk! was launched in 2007 by the health care company Kaiser-Permanente. This is the biggest health care company in America.
They undertook this mission to actually do something to make a healthy lifestyle and, in particular, walking easier and more attractive for people to do.
The initiative began with their own company employees – twenty thousand people. Kaiser Permanente did everything they could to promote walking to work and as a lifestyle choice for their workers.
Then, they went one step further. They started to reach out to the media and walking groups and organizations, for further support.
Realizing that the public health crisis in America was never going to be solved by simply finger wagging alone, Every Body Walk! set out to try and remove the obstacles in the path to walking.
The truth is that the towns and streets of America do not always lend themselves to comfortable and safe walking.
Recognizing this need is an instrumental tenet of Every Body Walk! – and also, of America Walks.
There are well over seven hundred affiliated groups and organizations, across the country who have got on board with the Every Body Walk Collaborative.
Whether it is at state or national level, there is a branch or organization out there to help start you on the path to fitness and walking!
Check out Every Body Walks! to see what’s happening in your area!
THE MISSION OF AMERICA WALKS
From its website, America Walks states its aim is to bring back control to local neighbourhoods and citizens, over their ability to walk freely.
They exist to ensure this vital human right is not only possible, but also safe to do and enjoyable.
They are concerned with the levels of fatalities among pedestrians, as well as the other issues that walking can bring.
This includes nuisances such as street harassment experienced by walkers and so on.
They are also committed to end the culture of victim blaming, when pedestrians are injured in car crashes.
THE LONG TERM AIMS OF AMERICA WALKS
The organization is nothing if not ambitious.
It has pledged to make the America of the future a place where it is desirable, fun and secure to go about daily life on foot.
This is something that they aim to see replicated within all types of community – from the affluent to the poorest among us.
They also have committed themselves to boost the levels of social participation and equality in walking.
What’s more, they have set themselves the target of achieving this goal by 2030.
WHAT DO THEY STAND FOR?
America Walks are dedicated to making walking as accessible as possible to all.
All events endorsed by America Walks are inclusive to those with disabilities and promote equality of race, religion, gender, nationality, sexuality and age.
America Walks first pulled on its collective walking boots back in the last century.
In 1996, the non-profit started up as the sole voice for walking that operated nationwide.
Its’ original remit was as a pedestrian advocacy group.
In those early years, the membership base swelled to sixty affiliated organizations. It was then the leadership began to realize
that it could act as a representative of both local and national groups.
THE ANNUAL CONGRESS
America Walks has a well established yearly congress, which has existed ever since the turn of the millennium.
This annual event looks at the best ways of achieving a walkable America and helps with practical strategies to ensure how to do so.
In 2002, the Congress established these eight central tenets at the core of its being;
• To give walking the recognition it deserves as a method of transportation.
• Make a plan for walking.
• To support safe routes to schools.
• To support safe routes to transport.
• To help connect communities.
• To uphold the ADA and the public right of way.
• To make urban roads slower.
• To promote walking as a vital way to keep America healthy.
AMERICA WALKS DIRECTOR
The Executive Director of America Walks is Kate Kraft. She has been in post since 2013.
Her past experience includes planning, design and transportation.
She aims to build up communities by creating and strengthening links between the care facilities and promote healthy lifestyle options within them.
Spreading understanding amongst professionals and members of the community alike, is one of America Walks biggest causes.
To this end, they are organizing and running several training sessions, webinars and courses.
One strand of this is an online program of ongoing education, called the Walking College.
Students will learn how to organize and engage with the relevant bodies, on the subject of walking.
They also get a grounding on the science behind walking for health, as well as the skills needed to fund projects and deal efficiently with decision makers.
Keep an eye on their website for more information about their courses. They also run webinars for anyone to participate in – more details can be found on their website.
Walking is free and should be accessible to all. Although America Walks knows that it is not always is easy as it should be, they are actively engaged in changing this.
Even ten minutes a day of brisk walking can provide physical and mental health benefits. But currently, under half of all Americans are able to manage walking even small amounts into their lives.
By incorporating walking, even in short amounts, into your daily routine you can improve your stamina, help your heart, use up calories and give your mood a lift.
It can also lower your blood pressure, which has a knock-on effect on maintaining your health. Your diabetes risk decreases, and it can even help with varicose veins!
Ultimately, by including walking to your daily routine you can add an extra seven years onto your life.
SIGN THE VISION STATEMENT
America Walks are asking for your support to sign the Vision Statement.
This is a demand that the America of the future to be accessible to all members of the community.
They want neighbourhoods which are safe and walkable – and so do we!
You can sign the Vision Statement here.
To help further the aims of America Walks, you can make a donation here.
Read their article, Pedestrians are People Too – Very informative webinar, only about an hour!