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Tag: age-friendly

Making Walking Connections in Blandford

Making Walking Connections in Blandford

WalkBoston, along with more than 10 people committed to making Blandford more walkable, conducted a masked, in-person walk audit in Blandford’s Village Center on Friday, April 30. Residents are interested in improved walking connections between key destinations in the village center – including the library, the Country Store, and Town Hall –  with Watson Park, the White Church, and the Town Common. Next steps include preparing a summary report which will be incorporated into the other planning activities in Blandford including the Blandford Resilient Master Plan and and Open Space and Recreation Plan.

The Hilltown CDC, together with Healthy Hampshire and WalkBoston, are leading a 5-year grant project to promote Age-Friendly Walkability in the Hilltowns Village Centers, funded by the Dept. of Public Health’s Healthy Aging Fund. In partnership with community residents and leaders, the team will be conducting a series of walk audits in partnering Hilltowns villages. The goal of these walk audits is to identify infrastructure improvements and policy changes to make village-center walking safe and enjoyable for people of all ages in the Hilltowns. The town of Blandford is one of the partnering communities in this grant project.

Age-Friendly Shared Streets for COVID Response and Recovery

Age-Friendly Shared Streets for COVID Response and Recovery

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, towns and cities have successfully been repurposing street space to make room for safer mobility with the help of state and private funding streams. WalkBoston partnered with the Solomon Foundation team on outreach for their Streets for Recovery funding opportunity to encourage shared streets strategies that would serve older adults. We reached out to our Housing Authority and Council on Aging partners across the state to think through strategies to help older adults keep walking during the pandemic. As a part of this outreach, the Solomon Foundation and WalkBoston worked with the Billerica Housing Authority to brainstorm healthy pathway strategies to better connect the town’s older adult housing complex to the nearby library and the Council on Aging. Solomon has committed funding towards placemaking elements of the Billerica healthy pathways project that will include raised bed gardens, seating, and wayfinding signage to encourage walking. This project has started a broader town conversation on long-term, accessible connections between these key destinations to encourage active mobility and healthy aging. WalkBoston is looking forward to seeing the Billerica Pollinator Pioneers out walking and gardening this summer.

Hilltowns Walkability and Healthy Aging Project

Hilltowns Walkability and Healthy Aging Project

This month, WalkBoston kicked off our five-year Hilltowns Walkability and Healthy Aging project in partnership with the Hilltowns Community Development Corporation and Northampton’s Collaborative for Educational Services. This project is funded through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Healthy Aging Fund and aims to make built environment and policy changes that will make walking safer and more enjoyable in the Hilltowns. The project team has been hosting community conversations via Zoom with Hilltowns stakeholders to learn more about the walking needs and priorities of residents. We are looking forward to heading out to the Hilltowns this summer for a series of workshops and walk audits to move these conversations to action.

Counterpoint to Ageism

Counterpoint to Ageism

BY ALTHEA WONG-ACHORN / DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

When November comes around in New England, even when we aren’t in the midst of a pandemic, our instinct is to hibernate until the springtime when the weather thaws. But last November, WalkBoston created a way to keep us moving, motivated, and connected.

Beat the Bay State (BTBS), a virtually-hosted team fitness challenge to run/walk “around” the 900-mile perimeter of Massachusetts, encouraged friends and families to come together to stay active through friendly competition. WalkBoston was thrilled to see people across the state sharing their photos and experiences, but was surprised to discover how many participants were older adults!

COVID-19 recommendations have been more restrictive for older adults, making them appear feeble compared to younger people. While responsibly practicing social distancing and wearing masks, however, this group also finds solace, community, and health benefits from outdoor activities.

Running, It’s Not Only For the Young

More than 450 people signed up for the inaugural BTBS Team Challenge. While many of our competitors were younger, a higher-than-anticipated number of older walkers and runners brought the average age up to 44, with the average age among the top 20 finishers being 48. Of the top 20 performers, in terms of miles logged, two were under the age of 30 and two were 65+. To top it off, the second-place winner was a 56-year-old man from Gardner who logged 404 total miles and averaged over 13 miles a day!

The State of Running, a 2018 report published by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and RunRepeat.com, breaks down how the age of runners is steadily climbing. It found that runners have never been older, increasing from an average age of 35.2 in 1986 to 39.3 in 2018.

Staying Active and Fit as You Age

BTBS highlights a common misconception about the link between increased age and decreased activity levels. Demographics are shifting: Running—and walking—are sports accessible to all ages, and the average age of runners is getting older with every passing year.

Running and walking are fantastic ways to stay fit, regardless of age. Anyone can get started with just a pair of shoes. You can walk or run by yourself, with your grandkids, or with a running club like the Greater Framingham Running Club (GFRC Growlers), which took first place in the Beat the Bay State Team Challenge.

As the evidence shows, motivation for daily walking and running has shifted from recording the fastest times or longest distances to staying social, keeping moving, and seeing your community on foot. So lace up and hit the pavement!

If you’re looking for new and interesting places to explore on foot, check out the nearly 80 walking maps available on the WalkBoston website at walkboston.org/resources/maps/. Each one features places that are wonderful to walk, easy to navigate, and convenient to get around, and most are transit accessible.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s January/February 2021 newsletter.
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Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking is a framework for planning and building cities and towns that are walkable for people of all ages. Walkability is key to ensuring that older adults can age in community, access goods and services, and maintain physical, mental, and social health.

To guide Age-Friendly Walking efforts for communities across Massachusetts, WalkBoston has developed a list of 8 policy actions and 8 infrastructure improvements that will help make communities more walkable. We hope these guidance documents can assist residents and municipal staff to take actions that will create accessible sidewalks and streets that are safe and welcoming for people of all ages.

If you would like to learn more about how WalkBoston can support Age-Friendly Walking in your community please email us at agefriendly@walkboston.org

These guidance documents can be downloaded here:
8 Age-Friendly Policy Actions
8 Age-Friendly Infrastructure Improvements