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Prevention Institute

Strategic Alliance Rapid Response: September 10, 2015

National call to action creates opening for media advocacy on walkability, equity

Yesterday, the U.S. Surgeon General released a powerful call to action on walkability. Dr. Vivek Murthy made a strong case that regular physical activity through walking can help prevent or manage chronic disease and boost quality of life and emotional wellbeing. He called for diverse sectors of society to work together to “design communities that make it safe and easy to walk for people of all ages and abilities.”

Prevention Institute’s Manal Aboelata released a statement commending the Surgeon General’s call to action: “Dr. Murthy has taken a critical step to raise awareness about the importance of walkable communities to ensure the public’s health… Creating walkable communities is about more than just building sidewalks and crosswalks—a truly walkable community is free from violence and injury, where residents have a voice in how neighborhoods look and feel, so that people of all ages and abilities can get around safely.” Read the rest of her statement here.

Walkability is good for the economy, the environment, and public health. Yet many people live in communities where walking isn’t safe or accessible. Sidewalks may be broken or non-existent. Parks may be few and far between. In neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence, people may not feel safe walking. That’s why the Surgeon General’s call to action is so important-- and why we need to help shape media coverage of walkability to:

•    Prioritize the walking needs of low-income Americans and communities of color that are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases associated with inadequate physical activity.
•    Promote investment in infrastructure that makes it safe and convenient for people to walk in their communities.
•    Encourage collaboration among many stakeholders at local, state and national levels.

Take action:

•    Write an Op-Ed or letter to the editor of your local paper. The Surgeon General’s call to action presents a timely opportunity to piggyback on the coverage to make the case for walkability in your community. Online and print Op-Eds and letters to the editor are consistently read by decision-makers, especially at the local and state level, who rely on these sources to get a pulse on public opinion. This makes them a key venue for advocates working to advance policy solutions. Successful letters to the editor and Op-Eds provide a local or regional angle to a national news story, link the issue to core values like fairness and innovation, and clearly state policies or strategies that are needed now.

•    Respond to media coverage with online comments. Keep your eyes open for coverage over the next few days. Here are a few news stories to get you started:

Think Progress: US Surgeon General wants everyone in America to have a safe place to walk

USA Today: Walk this way: Surgeon General wants Americans moving

Washington Post: Surgeon General to call for national walking campaign

Did you submit a comment or get something published? We want to hear about it! Connect with us on Twitter (@strat_alliance) or send us an e-mail to share your efforts.

Prevention Institute applauds Surgeon General's call to action on walkability

Read Manal Aboelata’s press statement praising the Surgeon General’s focus on walkability and offering concrete steps to advance walkability in all communities. 

Walk On

Walk On: Strategies to Promote Walkable Communities explores the nuts and bolts of planning and Complete Streets policies and includes case studies on rural and urban communities that are making real strides to support walkability.

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