Neighborhood Association Pushes City for More Walkable Streetscape



Nicolas Rivard and Allison Hu, urban designers in San Antonio and members of Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association, learned about an upcoming street construction project that lacks walkable streetscape elements in their largely Latino neighborhood, and decided to act. The urban designers mobilized and empowered community members to get involved and request walkable streetscape elements, and the city responded by adding street trees, separated sidewalks, and landscaping. Today, through their recent project, Place Changing, the designers use “design activism” or “participatory design” processes to build urban literacy and equip residents with strategies to continue to get involved in city planning and development projects. Walkability Low in East San Antonio Neighborhood Nicolas ...

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Group Creates ‘Wellness Corridor’ to Promote Active Spaces in Santa Ana, Calif.



The mostly Latino southern area of Santa Ana, Calif., had limited places to be active—and not a single park. Desperate for more active spaces to give them more chances to get fit and avoid disease and obesity, residents pushed for and received a new park, Corazones Verdes Park. While park construction remained underway, members of Latino Health Access sought alternative active spaces. That’s when they came up with the idea of creating a Wellness Corridor through downtown Santa Ana. Now partners from across the city are discussing ways to make the community more walkable, and residents of all ages are learning to effectively voice the need for healthy options. EMERGENCE Awareness: America Bracho, a Venezuelan-born physician and public health advocate for the Latino community of south ...

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After School Busing Program Brings Students to a Park in Houston



Thanks to a partnership between Children and Neighbors Defeat Obesity (CAN DO) Houston, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD), and the Houston Independent School District (HISD), students at Briscoe Elementary School in Houston now have new opportunities for the active play they need to ensure health and prevent childhood obesity. Before the collaboration, parents identified a lack of physical activity as a primary health concern; now thanks to an after school busing program, students can attend after-school activities at a nearby park for free. EMERGENCE Awareness: In 2005, the 44% Latino city of Houston was named America’s fattest city by Men’s Fitness magazine, prompting the formation of the Mayor’s Wellness Council (MWC) and later the Houston Wellness Association ...

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Passing a Complete Streets Policy in San Antonio, Texas



San Antonio pedestrians and cyclists will now have safer streets and walkways thanks to the implementation of the citywide Complete Streets policy. This San Antonio Complete Streets policy has not only helped those living in the city’s Westside, a largely Latino area, but has also paved the way for residents throughout the entire community to gain a better understanding of how an active-living-friendly environment can foster healthier lives. EMERGENCE Awareness: Health professionals, including David Clear and Kathy Shields of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health), were beginning to see that obesity was a problem in the largely Latino city of San Antonio. Along with obesity, many also suffered from diabetes—of these, many were Latino. In 2004, Metro Health ...

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Nonprofit Adds Sidewalks, Playground to Neighborhood in the ‘Colonias’



A housing agency advocate, fueled by locally targeted research and focus groups of homeowners, creates policy to include sidewalks, hike/bike trails, and a playground to plans for an affordable housing neighborhood in a colonia, an impoverished, highly Hispanic region of South Texas. EMERGENCE Awareness: Research indicates an obesity rate of 18.1% among Mexican-American preschool -aged children living in colonias—small, impoverished settlements that often lack proper infrastructure along the Texas-Mexico border. These colonias tend to lack sidewalks, street lights, places for recreation, and running water. Ann Cass, director of Proyecto Azteca—a non-profit organization that works to build homes for residents in the colonias—generally was aware that improvements needed to be ...

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Students Reclaim Streets with a Walking School Bus in Springfield



A predominantly Latino elementary school proves that morning exercise through a walking school bus program can benefit students, parents, and the community. Not only have school attendance rates increased, community engagement levels have increased, too. A Walking School Bus at Brightwood Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., now offers hope—and physical activity—to a community that not long ago faced fears of unsafe streets and high crime rates. Karen Pohlman, a nurse practitioner and community program manager for Baystate Medical Center, knew the community was struggling and wanted to improve people’s health, so she developed a plan to implement a walking school bus at Brightwood Elementary. EMERGENCE Awareness: Crime was high in the North End of Springfield, Mass., which ...

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