As I said in my remarks to the attendees, "I don't need to tell you this, but I need for you to know we know it. These are difficult times, and ours is very much a community in need. With so many struggling to keep shelter over head and food on the table, it’s easy to view trails, green space, and recreation as niceties and not necessities. We don’t see it that way, but we know it took foresight for the advisory committee to recognize the importance of what we do. Thank you for sharing our vision."
I went on to talk about growing evidence that our built environment is forcing people into cars and away from simple, effective physical activities like walking and biking that can help combat the growing incidence of child and adult obesity and related illnesses. I explained why we believe there is a health crisis in our community (and all across America) and why we believe trails are a vital element for addressing that crisis.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an entire program called Healthy Places and a number of resources, including the Healthy Communities Design Checklist. Not surprisingly, sidewalks, bike lanes, parks, trails, and green space are all key elements highlighted for their positive impact on community health.
Another useful resource is the Designing Healthy Communities series produced by Dr. Richard Jackson, MD and broadcast by the Public Broadcast System (PBS). Here's a preview clip of episode 1, Retrofitting Suburbia:
When you look at Newton Trails and our four fellow non-profits receiving support this year from the Newton Fund, we each seek to solve different problems. The Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are reaching out in a personal way with a helping hand to put food on the tables, clothes on the backs, and roofs over the heads of families in need in our community. Project ReNeWal provides safe haven and counseling in an effort to break the terrible cycle of domestic abuse. Washington Street Community Center gives young people, parents, and grandparents tools and skills to find a path to a better life through education and mentoring in life skills.
We're all threads -- along with many other non-profits in Newton County -- weaving the fabric of a stronger community. It takes all of us. We encourage you to support everyone trying to make this a better community. We are grateful for the gifts of time, money, and encouragement you give to Newton Trails, and we hope you feel good knowing you are making a difference.