Rocky Mount Y’s Advocacy Sparks Action

crosswalk picture in Rocky Mount

Advocacy works! In July, the Harrison Family YMCA conducted a walk audit in the Rocky Mount Housing Authority’s (RMHA) Weeks Armstrong neighborhood. The Y had convened a walking group of community members to increase their physical activity and conducted a walk audit in partnership with the housing authority and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson in July to learn about barriers to safe walking (and wheelchair rolling for some residents) in and around the neighborhood. 

The Y subsequently shared its Walk Audit Summary and Recommendations with the mayor, City Council and Housing Authority and had a follow-up meeting with RMHA and the city’s Director of Public Works.'

New Crosswalk for Elementary School Access

“We are really excited about the changes already taking place as a result of our advocacy,” said Liz Lord, Senior Engagement Director at the Y. “A crosswalk has been painted at an intersection leading to the elementary school, a speed study is currently being conducted, and streets and storm water staff have been directed to identify and repair any damaged or uplifted sidewalks on city maintained sidewalks. Plus the city has reached out to the NC Department of Transportation about refreshing crosswalk pavement markings, extending the pedestrian crossing time, and investigating construction of pedestrian refuge islands at a major intersection,” Lord said. 

The RMHA, which maintains many of the roads in the neighborhood as private roads, is investigating sharrows, adding an additional sidewalk to connect current sidewalks, and refreshing and adding crosswalks and signs to increase safety and walk/roll-ability. 

“Seeing the results of our advocacy efforts is energizing, and it’s rewarding for our walking club participants too. They are seeing the outcome of their effort,” Lord said. “We appreciate our mayor and other local leaders joining us for the audit to see first-hand what improvements could be made to make the community safer to increase opportunities to be healthy and active.”

The Y’s staff time was funded for this work through the NC Alliance of YMCA’s YUSA Healthy Active Communities grant; additional funding will enable the Y to continue building on community engagement and improved health.