YMCAs Advocate for Safe, Walkable/Rollable Communities

people conducting walk audit in Gaston County

North Carolina YMCAs reach out beyond the walls of the Y to support and strengthen communities. For several years, some YMCAs in North Carolina have used walk audits to identify barriers or challenges to walking or biking (as well as rolling strollers and wheelchairs). 

By forming walking groups with youth and adults and partnering with local organizations, YMCAs have utilized audit tools to identify needed improvements, such as sidewalk repairs, painting crosswalks, adding signage, and trimming trees or hedges to increase opportunities for safe, physical activity. In many cases, the Ys have focused on communities that are under-resourced and at greater risk for health disparities.

This video celebrates the work facilitated by the NC Alliance of YMCAs and funded by YMCA of the USA through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Active People, Healthy NationSM initiative to help more people become physically active in Rocky Mount, Wilmington and Southport, Gaston County and the Asheville area. 
Equipped with walk audit results, the Ys have worked advocated for improvements to local governments and agencies.

In Rocky Mount, the Harrison Family YMCA partnered with the Rocky Mount Housing Authority, Peacemakers and Mayor Sandy Roberson on audits by engaging community members who are looking for ways to be more active and safe in their communities. Some outcomes to date include a crosswalk painted at an intersection leading to the elementary school, as well as repair and maintenance of sidewalks. The city has reached out to the state Department of Transportation to work through some of the other recommendations.

In Wilmington, the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina continues to work with the city manager and his team through parks and recreation along with transportation regarding roads, intersections and crosswalks that need improvements surrounding the Portia Hines Park. This continues earlier work at the park where sidewalks have been paved and amenities such as a restroom, a pavilion and bike racks have been added. The Y has partnered with Voyage of Wilmington to bring Y programming to the park, such as free community Zumba classes in the park. 

Infrastructure improvements take time and commitment from various partners and agencies; the Alliance thanks the Gaston County Family YMCA and the YMCA of Western North Carolina for their work locally as well, and the Y appreciates those who are working with us to support healthier communities.

(August 2023)
More YMCA work on walkablity