Pennsylvania Invests $255,000 in WalkWorks Grants for Healthier Communities

Person walking on streetPhoto by Jens Mahnke on Pexels.com

HARRISBURG, PA — To foster healthier, more active communities, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recently announced a significant investment of $255,000 in grants. The funds, allocated through the WalkWorks program, are earmarked for nine communities across the state, each on a mission to create Active Transportation Plans. These plans aim to bolster physical activity among residents by enhancing pedestrian, bicycle, and transit networks, thereby connecting local destinations more effectively.

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, these communities will spend the next year diligently working with transportation and community planners. Their goal? To gather data, evaluate current conditions, engage with public input, and ultimately craft comprehensive Active Transportation Plans that meet their unique needs and aspirations.

The initiative is supported by a partnership with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), leveraging its Community Conservation Partnerships Program and Mini-Grant Program to further enhance the project’s reach and impact.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen highlighted the importance of walking as a simple yet powerful means to improve health, reduce stress, and lower the risk of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. “WalkWorks supports healthy communities by enabling more people to have the option of walking or biking to places they go every day,” Bogen stated, underscoring the dual physical and mental health benefits of outdoor activity.

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn echoed these sentiments, noting the added economic benefits local communities gain from increased tourism driven by improved access to trails and outdoor spaces. “The WalkWorks program is essential in helping connect people to the outdoors in their home communities,” Dunn remarked, pointing to the broader goal of making nature more accessible to Pennsylvanians right where they live.

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The grants were awarded to a diverse group of recipients across the state, from the bustling streets of Allentown in Lehigh County to the historic boroughs of Allegheny County. Each grantee was chosen from a competitive pool of applicants, evaluated by a multidisciplinary review team representing various Pennsylvania departments, including Health, Transportation, and Community and Economic Development.

This strategic investment in Active Transportation Plans represents a forward-thinking approach to public health, aiming not only to enhance physical activity and reduce obesity rates but also to spark economic vitality and decrease healthcare costs. By building safer, more beautiful, and functional public spaces, Pennsylvania is paving the way for its residents to lead healthier lives through increased movement and engagement with the outdoors.

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