Audits Highlight Needs for Active Communities

YMCA members and staff on a walk audit in McAdenville, NC/

Last month two new walking groups at the Pharr Family YMCA in McAdenville (Gaston County Family YMCA) conducted walk audits to identify challenges for walking and rolling (wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, etc.) throughout the downtown area. Gaston County is one of four Ys in the state working on the Alliance’s Healthy Active Communities grant from YUSA (and paid for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) 

A group of active older adults and a group of middle schoolers in the Y’s afterschool program conducted the audits. They noted multiple opportunities for improved infrastructure, such as improved sidewalk connectivity, ramps, repairs to sidewalks, telephone poles in the middle of sidewalks, and the need for trimming bushes next to sidewalks so that pedestrians and others would not need to step into the street. 

The goal of this work is two-fold: to provide additional opportunities for groups to be active in the community, while learning what changes need to be made for McAdenville to provide access to all for a safe, active environment. Incidentally, McAdenville is also known as Christmastown USA and hosts hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors every December to see the more than a half million lights.

The walkers’ biggest takeaway was that they had not taken notice previously of the challenges in safely navigating the downtown area; with an eye towards accessibility, they identified a lot of needs. The Y plans to share its findings with local officials to advocate for improvements to support a healthy, active community. 

This spring the YMCA of Western North Carolina, Harrison Family YMCA and YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina are all leading this work in their communities as well. With YUSA funding, the Alliance is producing a video about this work and its outcomes…stay tuned for the video coming this summer.


Other YMCA Walkability Advocacy Efforts