Category Archives: Healthy Neighborhoods

Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Why Exercise When You Can Just Dance? Turn It Up Tuesdays Makes Fitness Fun

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

Learn more and browse all the awesome Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge campaigns, like Krishna who is creating a haven for moms in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

 

Turn It Up Tuesdays

“We’re asking people if they want to come dance in the park—not exercise,” says Renee Matthews, leader of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project Turn It Up Tuesdays. “If you say, ‘exercise,’ people will say, ‘Oh, that’s too hard.’ But if you say, ‘dancing,’ that just means ‘fun.’ ”

Renee is a Niagara Falls native who worked in Buffalo for 17 years and is now back in her hometown, serving as Executive Director of the Highland Community Revitalization Committee. She says she first got into dance workouts with her sisters, in their living rooms. “We always marveled at how much fun dancing is as a way to burn calories and lose weight without even trying,” she says. “We had so much fun that I wanted to take it to the community.” Turn It Up Tuesdays will invite families and friends to join a high-energy line dancing party in a local park once a month this fall, and twice a month in spring and summer 2017. “It’s like going to the club, but outside!” she says. “My goal is for people to just think it’s a party, it’s a laugh. But they’re actually getting fit.”

turn it up tuesday niagra ny

One of nine children—who now has 19 nieces and nephews and 26 great-nieces and nephews—Renee is well aware of how family habits can play a role in wellness, and of the uphill battle the young people around her are facing to get and stay healthy. “My mom had cancer and heart disease; my dad was diabetic,” she says. “Here, those are typical issues. Every other person you know has one of them. And now they’re starting to affect younger and younger people—children and young adults. Our whole community is experiencing major health problems, but we especially don’t want to see our kids with the same health issues our parents faced.”

Renee says her neighborhood isn’t “exercise-friendly”—it lacks bike paths and lanes, fitness equipment in parks, and healthy food options. “Our pocket park just has two benches in it,” she says. “Nothing to help you exercise, no signs that say, ‘Let’s get fit! This is how to do a push-up, a pull-up, a sit-up.’ We also have junk food on every corner; it’s only, ‘Get a soda, get something to microwave.’ I want people on the street to sell salad and fruit and water instead of a hot dog. Something that’s pretty on a plate, not a hot dog with sugary condiments on it.” Niagara Falls is also not very walkable, Renee says, and her neighborhood is bookended by two major hospitals. “That sends the message that we’re sick people, and we stay sick,” she says.

While Renee can’t cure all these ailments overnight, she says that “people can change their lifestyles on a minute-by-minute basis, day by day.” To help them, she’s aiming to illustrate that getting exercise can be a fun challenge, not a dreaded, difficult one. “I hope people see that it’s very easy to do this,” she says. “Dancing is an easy challenge—people don’t even realize they’re burning calories! You can also take 10 or 15 minutes on your lunch break and walk around the block. It really isn’t that hard!”

Renee says she wants Turn It Up Tuesdays to be a springboard for more wellness initiatives in Niagara Falls. “I do expect it to go further,” she says. “I want us all to talk about what we eat, about how we want to see ourselves in the future… I want more people to get involved and create their own healthy challenges: a bike rally, a family-style healthy picnic. My project begins with exercise; it doesn’t stop there.”

turn it up tuesday niagra
Beside the health benefits, Renee says she sees an opportunity for new social interactions through her project, too. “We’re advertising this far and wide, and I’m excited to see how the community will come together,” she says. “We want to bring people here who wouldn’t normally come to our neighborhood. We want them to see that they can have fun in a place that they usually wouldn’t even drive through.”

Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Champlain Valley Family Yoga: Ancient Practice, New Hope for Addiction Recovery

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

Learn more and browse all the awesome Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge campaigns, like Krishna who is creating a haven for moms in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

 

Champlain Valley Family Center

“Everyone knows someone who’s affected by substance use addiction, no matter who or where you are,” says Ginny Brady, Board President of the Champlain Valley Family Center (CVFC) in Plattsburgh, New York. “It’s everyone’s problem; everyone’s issue.”

For almost 35 years, CVFC has provided treatment and prevention programs for people struggling with substance use addiction, and their families. They offer both education- and community-based programming, and are now adding a third dimension through their Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project: Champlain Valley Family Yoga.

Champlain Valley Family Center ioby

“We’d like to add more of a ‘spiritual’ program that can address the many things people benefit from focusing on when they have addiction problems,” Ginny says. “Things like getting exercise and gaining strength, feeling good about their bodies, relaxing, deep breathing, mindfulness, building a new skill and a new community, and on and on. These are all qualities inherent in yoga that can help people feel good about their progress when they’re struggling.”

Adding yoga classes to CVFC’s roster of services is a multi-phase plan that began with staff member Emily Cole’s desire to earn a yoga training certificate. Conversations with her colleagues generated the idea that she could eventually lead yoga classes for their community, in their space—if only they had the right space… Perhaps providentially, CVFC recently purchased the second half of the building they occupy, and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will be working with them to renovate it this fall. The overhaul includes plans for a yoga studio and library of yoga-related books and videos.

champlain valley yoga ioby

Ginny hopes they’ll be able to open the space in May 2017, and eventually hold yoga sessions and even retreats there for both the people who use CVFC facilities and their loved ones. The organization will make sure classes are covered by clients’ health insurance or operate by donation. And Ginny hopes to get other area yoga studios involved: “If they know of people who might benefit from yoga in our setting, they can advertise it and refer people to us. And we can use some of our funding to offer gift certificates to people who want to expand their practice outside our hours or location.”

Having served on the CVFC board for 15 years, Ginny has seen lots of changes take place in Clinton County, a place she loves living, a place with a great small-town feel. “But our community is like many New York state communities,” Ginny says. “We have a real concern about the addiction crisis we’re facing. It used to be that addiction was viewed as a moral weakness; a character flaw. But we know now that it’s much more: it’s a health crisis like any other, and that means it has to be viewed and dealt with in many different ways: medically, with support systems, with behavioral changes. We’re looking for new ways to have an impact on this health crisis that’s becoming overwhelming. We have to try new things to find solutions that will help more people.”

Ginny says she realizes yoga might not be the answer for everyone struggling with addiction, but it is a way to address aspects of their experience that more traditional methods like going to a lecture or attending group therapy aren’t reaching. “We want to get the word out that yoga isn’t just for vegans!” she jokes. “It’s not just for circus performers, or supermodels. It is growing in popularity, and people are learning that they can just take the bits and pieces of it that suit them. It’s not all or nothing. It’s a practice that can be tailored to where a person is at any given time, that can help them at any stage in their recovery.”

Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Bringing The Peace and Building Community: Kids, Police, and Plants in Harmony

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

Learn more and browse all the awesome Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge campaigns, like Krishna who is creating a haven for moms in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

 

Bringing the Peace and Building Community

“The way we perceive people is part of our mental health,” says Linda Kemp, leader of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project Bringing The Peace and Building Community. “In our community, we need to get to know each other, to build bonds, so that misconceptions are dispelled.”

Bringing the Peace continues the beautification and community-building work Linda started in Drew Park, a playground near her home in the Claremont neighborhood of the Bronx, a few years ago. This past July, she organized a Bring the Peace basketball game, where neighborhood youth and officers from the 42nd Precinct faced off on the court. The youngsters won 54-50 and were naturally elated, but Linda says for the rematch she planned for August, she decided to mix the teams up. “The coach was mad at first, but I had to tell him gently, ‘No. We’re bonding here. We’re breaking barriers so we can have a healthier community. We’re not against each other; we have to learn to work together.’ And you know what? The kids and the police played so well together.” Linda says the officers brought the young players a new basketball, some “old timers” from the neighborhood joined in the game, and she got some new recruits for her park beautification efforts in the process.

bringing the peace and building the community ioby

“So now we need to sustain this success,” she says. “If you’re not persistent, it goes away.” Linda’s planning another community game for September or October, and will continue her park improvement efforts through the fall and winter with some bright-colored painting, new plantings, and a lot of mulch. “By the time we’re done, this place will look like Central Park!” she says.

Despite these great efforts, Linda sees many difficult issues in her community. “When my family moved here, the IRT Third Avenue Line was still up [this line ceased operation in 1973]. I still live here, but the psychology has changed. There’s a lot of mental illness now; people think there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. I want to create ownership and bring community back; help us take some responsibility for our conditions, and make our neighborhood sustainable and enjoyable. This is our park! This is our community! These are our police! We can’t police our community without policing it together. We have to take care of each other first.”

There was a four-year period in Linda’s life in which she lost her husband, her grandfather, and a nephew, and her sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had been part of a gardening program in her building, and seriously stepped up her involvement during this trying time. “I had to keep going,” she says. She and a few fellow tenants sought support from the New York Restoration Project, confronted the building’s management about its lack of investment, and “started turning the dirt.” “I put my hands in the earth like never before,” she says. “We turned a bunch of junk into a beautiful landscape. You wouldn’t even know you were in the Bronx! I never knew how therapeutic it was: pulling weeds and planting.”

bringing the peace and building a community ioby

Now Linda’s park volunteers come from all walks of life: young and old, police and residents, sometimes even people staying in transitional housing nearby. “They just start helping,” she says. “And then they start looking at things differently and realize that this is how it should be.”

Linda recently brought two classes from a local charter school to visit Drew Park. She talked with them about how being around nature can help them feel and act better. “I told them that all the emotions they have are normal,” she said. “But when you’re frustrated, you need to get that out in a healthy way. And we can do that with plants, by touching the soil, by watching seeds grow. I gave them all seedlings and a box of dirt and showed them what to do. They were ecstatic! They instantly recognized the stress relief. Kids today are subjected to so much stress. We don’t talk about that enough.”
“It warms my heart when I see people coming together and feeling part of the whole,” Linda says. “Officers, seniors, little kids… I like that feeling when we’re all together, when we remember what it’s like to be a whole community, to make that collective impact. That’s the best: when we can look around and see what we’ve done together.”

Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Bring a Kitchen Classroom to CPE II

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

Learn more and browse all the awesome Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge campaigns, like Krishna who is creating a haven for moms in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

 

bring a kitchen classroom to CPE ll

“Our school, CPE II, is located in a diverse and vibrant neighborhood. There has been enthusiasm around our schoolyard garden, and this project will create a resource that will build even more community around good food,” said Anat Grosfeld, a parent, resident of Harlem, and one of the leaders of the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project Bring a Kitchen Classroom to CPE II.

Anat and fellow leaders Miyonna Milton and Liz Simmons have all been active participants in the schoolyard garden at Central Park East II School in East Harlem, a co-located elementary and middle school. Anat says that parents and teachers successfully got the garden up and running, but then ran into a dilemma: there was no dedicated place to store or prepare the fruits and vegetables it produced. “We organized several events where parents came in to prep and pass food to the kids, but it was not the ‘360 experience’ we wanted them to have, where they were planting, harvesting, preparing, and then eating the food.” Despite space constraints, the group was eventually able to secure a room in the school for produce storage, kitchen equipment, and food classes (it also doubles as an art room, but it’s space nonetheless). The funds they raise through the Challenge will go toward purchasing appliances and utensils, and possibly to enriching the school’s “kitchen education” offerings.

Bring a kitchen to CPE II ioby

Miyonna helped maintain the school’s garden over the summer, and says that activity alone opened a lot of conversations with their neighbors. “There’s lots of low-income housing around the school on one side,” she says. “On the other side, there are the biggest museums in NYC. That disparity leads to quite a bit of discussion already. But we noticed our older neighbors in particular liked to stop by and ask questions: ‘Who’s growing this stuff?’ ‘What are you planting?’ Most people are very supportive and want to get involved; they want to know how they can do the same thing where they live, in their own backyard.”

Anat agrees: “It’s been a powerful experience, seeing how a little bit of green cultivation of an area can pique so many people’s interest.”

But although many East Harlem residents might be keen on greens, the food they have ready access to can be anything but. “I’m not originally from New York, so this whole bodega thing kind of caught me off guard,” Miyonna says. “Kids always want to go to the bodega to get an after-school snack. But the bodegas in our community only serve to help addict our kids to these sugary, fatty tastes, and it’s leading to the destruction of our health. It may not be politically correct to say, but communities of color have been targeted. We suffer the most from diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure… I’m over it.”

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CPE II has a healthy eating policy inside its walls, Anat says. “But once you step outside, you’re besieged: it’s just bodegas with junk food or ice cream trucks.” She says the garden creates a focal point and “beautiful alternative” to everything else surrounding the schoolyard. “It’s an important thing to be doing in a school,” she says. “We need to teach life skills as well as academics. The kids who go to this school will have a different perspective: they’ll know about the many things they can grow, what vegetables look like, how they taste, and how they feel when they eat healthfully. And they’ll carry that knowledge into their future.”

One of the project’s aims is to integrate learning with eating. “Lunchtime here is typically a get-in, get-out affair,” Anat says. Her goal is to get students—and teachers—cooking and eating mindfully so that mealtime can still be learning time, not just a rushed break between classes.

Another goal is to eventually use the kitchen classroom for afterschool and evening food classes for families and friends. “As the project gets off the ground and we find ways to bring our neighbors in more—with events like parent cooking workshops and expert talks—community participation will be key to strengthening and sustaining the whole thing,” says Anat.

“I will think our project is successful if I walk into the building and smell food—real food that offers nutrition,” Miyonna says. “Food really is love. It’s about community, health, wellness, and sharing.”

“And it’s so important for people to feel the power and intentions in those things when they’re making food choices,” Anat adds. “We don’t have to order pizza for every event.”

Feel inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge! Baobab Fit: A Fun & Healthy Refresher for Moms of Color

ioby’s Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge is launching loud and proud this week. We’re super excited to be partnering with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHF) to support citizen leaders in nine neighborhoods and cities across New York as they take an active role in creating a culture of health where they live. Extra excitingly, the first $200 of each gift supporters like you make to their campaigns will be matched dollar-for-dollar by NYSHF through September 30!

This week on the blog, we’re profiling five fantastic projects that show the Challenge’s range of styles and locales. “The Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge pulls together many of the types of civic engagement projects ioby has long loved to support, and links them under the banner of improving community health,” says Ethany Uttech, ioby’s Leader Action Strategist & Partnership Manager. “Everything from nutrition education to park advocacy to healthy exercise is represented here, in projects as fun-sounding as a river rowing club for urban youth, a smoothie pop-up stand that blends local produce, and a weekly family line dancing party in the park.”

The Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge also hits another important note for us: like all ioby projects, it puts real resident leaders in the driver’s seat. We believe that the people who live in a neighborhood know what’s best for it, are poised to be its best stewards, and should be encouraged to step forward and take a leadership role in its development. They’re most in touch with what their community needs, and have the biggest stake in making it better for the long run.

We hope you enjoy these profiles of some of The Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge’s coolest projects. See them all at ioby.org/healthy, and remember that your gift will be matched until the end of this month!

 

Baobab Fit

“I want to take the good developments happening in the rest of Brooklyn and bring them to Brownsville, which has been largely left behind,” says Krishna Davenport of her Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge project Baobab Fit – Brownsville. Her idea was inspired by the recent “daytime parties” trend, but adds a particular focus on wellness for moms of color in this Brooklyn neighborhood—moms who otherwise might not have ready access to such events. (The project also takes inspiration from the venerable Baobab tree, also known as “The Tree of Life”—a species native to Africa that produces nutrient-dense fruit, provides shelter for people and animals, and can live for thousands of years.)

Baobab Fit ioby

“We mothers don’t get a lot of our own time,” Krishna explains. “This is a moment to be ourselves, and to do something good for ourselves.” Her monthly wellness workshops will feature three workout stations, a chef preparing healthy meals (“not just salad!”), a Reiki practitioner (“to read people’s energy and help them refocus”), and a DJ (“it is a party, after all!”). There will also be HIV testing and on-site babysitting—at no charge.

“Baobab Fit events are designed to give you a quick burst of energy,” Krishna says. “They’re 90 minutes: long enough to make an impact, but short enough that you still have the rest of your day. I want women to leave with a refreshed feeling about who they are are as a person, not just as someone’s mother or wife.”

Krishna grew up in Brownsville and enjoyed an active childhood—playing tennis and dancing with Dance Theatre of Harlem‎—that continued into her adult years. When she was 30, her husband was diagnosed with diabetes, which was a big wake-up call. “We realized it’s not just an old person’s disease,” she says. Krishna started talking to people about diabetes and about how they could heal from its effects by leading a healthier life.

She even started a blog about healthy living, Baobab Wellness, and readers began to ask her why she didn’t hold a workshop or class. First she replied that she didn’t have the time, but finally she tried organizing one event, and it was a smash hit. So she kept going.

“I’ve done these events all over Brooklyn,” Krishna says. “For the past two years, I’ve wanted to bring them to Brownsville, and this is my chance.” She now lives in Hempstead, Long Island and works on Wall Street, but is still a big Brownsville booster. “It’s hard when you come from here and leave and then try to come and give back,” she says. “People think it might be out of pity, because Brownsville doesn’t have the best reputation right now. But it’s not; it’s out of love. I have the most love and the most pride for my neighborhood. I want other past and present residents to see and share in that. I want other people to love it, too.”

Krishna says she can see that the kids in her old neighborhood don’t have the best access to healthy food, and that moms don’t have a lot of positive outlets for their stress. “I know that not every kid who grows up in Brownsville is getting the opportunities I had,” she says, “so I want this project to take off and become a regular occurrence: from once a month, to twice a month, to once a week! I want people to look forward to it, for new people and regulars to come participate and make connections—about wellness, but also about the neighborhood, about finances, about schools, about local businesses, about making change… This is about physical health, but also about the social health of the community.”

“I want everyone to support healthy changes in Brownsville from within Brownsville,” Krishna says. “That the support comes from within is very important to me.”

Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.

Learn from a Leader: Help peds walk safely with crosswalk flags!

Many factors contribute to our health, including genetic predispositions, access to quality medical treatment, and even the amount of sleep we get.

But have you ever thought about how your neighborhood affects your health?

“Social determinants of health” is the term for every external condition in which we are born, grow, work, and age. These include our relationships with family and friends, our employment opportunities, our socioeconomic status, and—of particular interest to ioby—our neighborhood amenities, like public transit, affordable fresh food, exercise options, and nutrition education. People who live in zip codes that have these things are likely to enjoy good health; in areas without them, residents are likely to struggle with with chronic illnesses like obesity and diabetes.

The good news about these neighborhood-based social determinants of health is that we have the power to change them! Every day, citizen leaders (like you!) are taking small steps toward big change by making their neighborhoods healthier, one block at a time. And this summer, ioby is partnering with the New York State Health Foundation to help local leaders in nine regions get their ideas for healthy change off the ground by providing fundraising training and dollar-for-dollar matching funds! Read more about the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge and how to apply.

Want to get involved but need some inspiration? Our Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge Learn from a Leader blog series is profiling past ioby Leaders whose projects exemplify what we’re looking for from applicants: projects that focus on healthy food, active transport, green spaces, fighting disease, or some combination. Read on, and imagine how your neighborhood could benefit!

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About the project:

Crosswalk flags are sweeping the nation! Pick up a brightly-colored, reusable flag before you cross a busy street, look both ways, then deposit it on the other side for the next pedestrian. The flag will increase your visibility in the moment, and raise general awareness that peds are around—and have the right of way.

Sarah Newstok, who installed crosswalk flags in her neighborhood, says, “Memphis has high rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Disregard for pedestrian safety leaves our most vulnerable populations at risk: children, the elderly, people with disabilities, transit users, and low-income neighbors without access to cars. The flags are not a perfect solution, but I do think they help. We did get a crosswalk and a crosswalk sign at our intersection after installing the flags, so that’s progress!”

 

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The steps:

  1. Picture it. Locate the intersections in your neighborhood that could benefit most from crosswalk flags. Busy places where there is a crosswalk already but no traffic light or stop sign are usually good candidates. In our case, we started with the intersection that’s the main entrance for Overton Park and the Memphis Zoo—it was crazy that it was so hard to cross there, as so many pedestrians use it!
  2. Picture it 2. Now locate some cute kids—I used my own cute children, of course—and take pictures of them looking sad because they can’t cross the street, then looking happy while using the flags to cross more safely. You can use these images to help explain and publicize your project.  
  3. Reach out. I was able to raise all the money I needed in a day or two by pinging people on Facebook who I knew were frustrated with the same situation. “Hey fellow PTA mom—how do you like not being able to cross the street to reach the park?” Appeal to people first who you know have had the same problem. Then, as soon as they donate, shout them out on social media and ask, “Who’s next?” Keeping that process up is pretty easy, and it works!
  4. Design. Go out to the sites and figure out what you need. Each intersection is different, but you will always need to set your flags up with: 1) A narrow plastic bucket (to discourage people from throwing trash in it) with a hole in the bottom (to let rainwater drain); a wide PVC pipe with a cap on the end works well (just drill a hole in the cap!). 2) Something to affix the bucket to a nearby pole (clamps work for thin poles like stop signs; zip ties are better for thicker ones like telephone poles). 3) Some kind of signage to explain the deal. (Laminated paper doesn’t last long, but you can get a sturdier sign fabricated, or just write in permanent marker on the bucket. Whatever you do, make the instructions clear: “Grab flag, look, walk, wave, deposit on the other side.”)
  5. Place your order. Search online for “buy safety flags” and a bunch of results will come up. Try to get flags that match your city’s pedestrian signs for consistency: most are orange or bright yellow. Affix your buckets to the nearest pole to the crosswalk on both sides, so people are sure to see them.

 

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Time/timing:

This is a quick project to start up—you could do it in a month—but the maintenance is ongoing. I still monitor the flags and replace them when they get faded (more common) or stolen (less common).

 

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Budget:

– Flags (approx $2.50 per)

– Buckets (approx $10 per) (make sure they’re tall enough so the flags don’t fall out!)

– Markers to write on buckets or sturdier signage: $1 – $50 (depending on fanciness)

– Small metal clamps or zip ties (approx $1 per)

– UV protectant spray (approx $10 per bottle) (to keep flag fabric from fading)

Total cost of one bucket with five flags = approx $40 – $50 ($80 – $100 per crosswalk)

 

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Additional resources:

I did not come up with this idea—lots of cities around the country are doing it! Just search online for “crosswalk flags” and see what they’re up to; systems keep improving. I particularly liked reading about Kirkland, Oregon’s PedFlags.
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About the author:

Sarah Newstok lives in Overton Park with her husband, three kids, and dog named Cleo. She is in charge of Special Projects at Livable Memphis, and enjoys bike riding, spending time in nature, and adventurous travel.

Feeling fired up about crosswalk flags, or another project that could make your neighborhood healthier? Learn more about the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge and apply for fundraising training and matching dollars now!

Learn From A Leader: Encourage healthful walking with helpful signage

 

Many factors contribute to our health, including genetic predispositions, access to quality medical treatment, and even the amount of sleep we get.

But have you ever thought about how your neighborhood affects your health?

“Social determinants of health” is the term for every external condition in which we are born, grow, work, and age. These include our relationships with family and friends, our employment opportunities, our socioeconomic status, and—of particular interest to ioby—our neighborhood amenities, like public transit, affordable fresh food, exercise options, and nutrition education. People who live in zip codes that have these things are likely to enjoy good health; in areas without them, residents are likely to struggle with with chronic illnesses like obesity and diabetes.

The good news about these neighborhood-based social determinants of health is that we have the power to change them! Every day, citizen leaders (like you!) are taking small steps toward big change by making their neighborhoods healthier, one block at a time. And this summer, ioby is partnering with the New York State Health Foundation to help local leaders in nine regions get their ideas for healthy change off the ground by providing fundraising training and dollar-for-dollar matching funds! Read more about the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge and how to apply.

Want to get involved but need some inspiration? Our Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge Learn from a Leader blog series is profiling past ioby Leaders whose projects exemplify what we’re looking for from applicants: projects that focus on healthy food, active transport, green spaces, fighting disease, or some combination. Read on, and imagine how your neighborhood could benefit!

 

colleen_corcoran

 

About the project:

Walk This Way, Caminale is a series of street signs on historic Central Avenue in Los Angeles, developed by local students from Jefferson High School, that tell pedestrians how long it takes to walk or bike from where they are to nearby amenities, landmarks, and neighborhoods. The signs aim to get people walking and biking for longer distances than they thought they could, and to change the perception that Los Angeles is impractical to navigate without a car.

“This part of South Central has a much higher rate of obesity than other parts of L.A.,” says Colleen Corcoran of Los Angeles Walks, who led the project. “There’s a lack of healthy food, recreation opportunities… A lot of residents already walk or bike out of necessity, but we wanted the signs to encourage them to go for longer distances, and with health and recreation in mind, rather than just getting to work or running errands. The area was also a prime location for a project like this because we found a lot of community interest there, but not necessarily the local funding for people to do it on their own.”
Central Ave installed

The steps:

  1. Don’t go it alone. Identify some community partners. We wouldn’t have succeeded if we hadn’t worked with the National Health Foundation (NHF) and their Health Academy students at Jefferson High, as well as the City Council Office, and numerous other community organizations in the area. Approach organizations who work in your target neighborhood and know it well.
  2. Survey says… Ask people walking on the street questions like why they’re walking, where they’re going, if they would like to see walking and biking times posted, etc. These will help reveal the most popular destinations in your neighborhood and inform what should go on your signage. (A little later in this process, you can survey people again—to ask them what they think of your sign designs.)
  3. Design-a-Sign. Involve your community partners (and a professional designer, if you choose) in deciding what destinations to include on your signs, and the language and symbols to describe them. Get outside and do a “community asset walk” together to identify a well-rounded collection of places: parks, historic sites, city offices and community spaces, farmers markets, adjacent neighborhoods, etc. (We didn’t shout out specific businesses, but did say things like, “Healthy tacos: 15 minute walk.”) Then talk about your color palette, font styles, and icons (what symbol should represent a green space? a historic site?). You can tailor these choices to your area—in our case, we thought about how to represent South Central’s rich jazz history in our signs’ design.
  4. Locate & fabricate. We worked with L.A.’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify the best locations for our signs. It’s important to get expert help with this so your signs don’t wind up interfering with existing city signage, traffic lights, or other infrastructure. DOT can also advise you about how best to install the signs for maximum longevity. Then, we worked with a vendor recommended to us by DOT to fabricate our signs.
  5. Install & enjoy! Our sign vendor helped our students to install the signs, which can be a great hands-on learning experience. And NHF organized a post-installation community walk to show the signs off; students were invited to present to attendees about their role in the project.

 

Installation

Time/timing:

The work of surveying, designing, fabricating, and installing took us a few months. Depending on the size of your city and the number of partners you work with, the outreach piece can take longer, since there’s a lot of back-and-forth communication. Altogether, maybe six months.

 

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Budget:

We raised about $8,000 through our ioby campaign and spent about $7,000. Paying for professional design and fabrication help accounted for roughly half the total; most of the rest went to outreach activities like organizing events, making copies, buying materials for design sessions, getting maps, printing surveys, etc. Budget a few hundred dollars for each event, and a thousand or more to hire a professional designer. In general, we got a lot of volunteer help; your costs might be higher if you have to pay for more things out of pocket.

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Additional resources:

– Walk This Way, Caminale was based on the Walk Your City signage in Raleigh, North Carolina. Their Sign Builder lets anyone design signs for their neighborhood!

– Their founder, Matt Tomasulo, had a lot of good advice for us about where to put our signs and what they should say.

 

Colleen Corcoran

About the author:

Colleen Corcoran is a graphic designer from Texas, living and working in Los Angeles on projects that examine the use of design as a tool for education and positive change within the urban environment. She works with various community organizations and public agencies on projects that promote active transportation, human-centric public policies, and economic and social justice. Colleen is a co-founder of LA’s regular open streets event CicLAvia and currently serves on the steering committee of the pedestrian advocacy organization Los Angeles Walks. She can also be found along the banks of the Arroyo Seco or the window seat of the Metro bus.

Feeling fired up about time-to-walk signage, or another project that could make your neighborhood healthier? Learn more about the Healthy Neighborhoods Challenge and apply for fundraising training and matching dollars now!