Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson and Kelvin Macklin, CEO of the Rocky Mount Housing Authority, joined Harrison Family YMCA staff and walking club members on July 15 for a walk audit in the Weeks Armstrong neighborhood to assess how safe it is to walk or wheelchair roll in the area. Walk audits are an effective tool for advocating for infrastructure changes that can lead to safer communities that provide increased opportunity for healthy, active living.
With grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through YUSA, the NC Alliance of YMCAs has funded this and similar audits across NC since 2013. Liz Lord, Senior Engagement Director, at the Y, attended a training in 2019 that provided her with the expertise to engage community members and conduct walk audits effectively.
This year, the Y has partnered with the Rocky Mount Housing Authority to create a Walking Club for Weeks Armstrong neighbors and a walking club for the West End Terrace community to help improve their health.
“We have enjoyed taking our work out into the community to help improve health and encourage an active lifestyle,” said Lord. “The July 15 Walk Audit was a celebration of that community’s walking club and an opportunity to involve local community leaders in identifying opportunities to improve walkability for the residents there who regularly walk to school, work and shopping in the area,” she said.
“Walking and biking are great ways for people of all ages to stretch their legs, see their neighbors and improve their health – all at the same time,” said Mayor Roberson. “We are grateful to the YMCA for doing this walk audit to ensure our streets safely support these healthy activities.”
Y staff will continue the walking club as temperatures cool this fall, and the Y is providing Mayor Roberson, the City Council and Mr. Macklin with a complete report on the walk audit findings to advocate for suggested improvements. The walk audit highlighted opportunities to reduce speeding, improve safe crossings, add a bike/walk lane and repair sidewalks, among other improvements.