Walk Fairview Day Success Story
Walking around the neighborhood is a great way to add physical activity to your day and improve your health. But what if there are barriers in your environment to physical activity? A group of youth from the Fairview Community in Hillsborough, North Carolina identified these barriers. They had the help of adult coordinators and Judit Alvarado from the UNC Food, Fitness, and Opportunity Research Collaborative (FFORC). FFORC is a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. Together, they hosted a neighborhood walking event for community members and policy makers so that they could experience these barriers and be motivated them to address them.
Environmental factors can affect whether an individual is able to benefit from regular physical activity. The built environment includes things like sidewalks, streetlights, traffic signs, and crosswalks. These things can promote or discourage physical activity in a neighborhood. In the Fairview Community, residents are limited by a lack of:
- Sidewalks along busy roadways
- Cross walks and traffic signs
- Shelters and benches at bus stops
- Clear pathways connecting community points of interest
- Traffic calming features
- Signage for pedestrians and automobiles
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Orange County and the Fairview Community Watch, SNAP-Ed Coordinator Judit Alvarado assisted a group of 6 young adults in identifying barriers to walkability in their community. The group conducted walking audits and a ‘mapping my community’ activity. This tool engaged the youth in community planning. With assistance from Mobycon, a Dutch inspired mobility firm from Durham, NC, the youth learned and implemented a tactical urbanism strategy. This strategy identified low-cost, temporary solutions that drew attention to ways walkability could be improved. Strategies included:
- Creating signs indicating distances from community landmarks
- Creating temporary road signs indicating where crosswalks and sidewalks should be installed
- Creating make-shift bike racks in the community park
- Chalking sidewalks with motivational messages and images
- Creating rest stations to provide shade for residents and a place to sit for residents to wait for the bus.
The youth then invited community members and local and county policymakers to a cumulative Walk Fairview Day event on September 18, 2021. They led 44 participants on either a 1 mile or 2 mile walk throughout the community where they discussed their tactical urbanism approach. They pointed out barriers and community landmarks including the park and community garden, and answered questions. Policy makers in attendance were exposed to the barriers firsthand and were encouraged by the youth to invest in their community.
Due to this event, policymakers expressed their desire to implement permanent fixtures like sidewalks, trails, and bike racks in the Fairview community. Conversations about changing the built environment the Fairview community have continued since the event. The FFORC team will continue to build strong relationships for meaningful impact with the youth and in the community.
The framework indicators used include LT11: Unexpected Benefits, MT6: Physical Activity and Reduced Sedentary Behavior Supports, ST6: Champions and LT8: Media Coverage.
For more information, contact Judit Alvarado, Field Coordinator for the UNC Chapel Hill FFORC SNAP-Ed implementing agency. To learn more about this and other FFORC programs, visit https://hpdp.unc.edu/fforc/.