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“Youth Working Towards Walkable Streets” in Framingham

“Youth Working Towards Walkable Streets” in Framingham

With grant support from the MetroWest Community Care Health Foundation, WalkBoston will spend this year working closely with Framingham youth to improve walkability through our Youth Working Towards Walkable Streets program. Program staff Elena Ortiz and LeighAnne Taylor began the project last month, guiding a group of MetroWest Boys and Girls Club participants, grades 5th-8th, through active learning sessions on pedestrian safety, resources and tools to improve the built environment for walking, and civic engagement. Through these bi-weekly lessons, youth will learn about proven solutions to walkability challenges, and explore their own community to identify walking assets and opportunities. With WalkBoston staff support, the youth will plan and lead walk audits near the Boys and Girls Clubhouse, inviting representatives from local government agencies to participate. The results of the audits will be presented to Framingham City Council with the goal that built environment improvements and policy recommendations will be adopted and implemented by the city. 

The Framingham Youth Working Towards Walkable Streets program strives to address physical and mental health issues reported in the 2018 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, which highlights high rates of youth obesity and stress, and to improve walking safety in the community. Since 2016, there have been 118 pedestrian crashes in Framingham. In downtown Framingham alone, where the Boys and Girls Club is located, there have been 15 pedestrian crashes since 2016. This program aims to bolster the youth’s knowledge and ability to advocate for a more walkable Framingham, which we hope will contribute to improvements in physical and mental health outcomes.

Along with the MetroWest Community Health Foundation, WalkBoston is eager to partner with local representatives of Framingham Public Safety, City Council, and Department of Public Works. Staff also expect that collaboration with the Framingham Youth Council will be an especially inspiring opportunity for participants to learn from local youth leaders. WalkBoston looks forward to growing partnerships in the Framingham community and sharing more updates about this exciting project.

Session one of Youth Working Towards Walkable Streets started with a conversation about where the program participants like to walk in their community and what they enjoy about walking.
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