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Stepping it Up: Detroiters Share Favorite Places to Walk in the Motor City

Paulette Brown likes to walk in North Rosedale Park to see beautiful homes and friendly neighbors, whereas Gabriel Clayton prefers the soothing and refreshing environment of the Riverfront.

These are just some of the comments Detroiters recently shared as part of a "Pick Your Path" video contest sponsored by the Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP), an ongoing collaboration among several Detroit community organizations, health agencies, and University of Michigan School of Public Health researchers to help boost the health of Detroit residents.

Launched in August, the contest invited Detroit residents to submit video clips up to 20-seconds long to ‘show and tell' where they enjoy walking in the city, and why. Submitted videos highlight multiple Detroit locations, including the Dequindre Cut, Farwell Field, North Rosedale Park, Palmer Park, Rouge Park, Patton Park and the Riverfront walkway.

The public is now invited to view 24 eligible walking videos (see above) and to vote online for those they consider the most informative, innovative, and inspiring. People can vote until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 27 (one vote per person)-after which two winners will be selected to win Fitbit activity monitors valued at up to $149.99. HEP will announce the winners Oct. 1.

"I was diagnosed with Diabetes, and I'm taking the diagnosis seriously," said Detroit resident and "Pick Your Path" contestant Ewanda Watkins, who walks regularly in Palmer Park. "My goal is to become medication free. Walking and making new friends (walking) is the way to do it."

HEP has been encouraging Detroiters to walk for wellbeing for several years, and earlier this month the United States Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walking Communities. Called Step It Up, the call urges U.S. citizens to walk more to improve their health, since only half of adults and one quarter of high school students get the amount of physical activity recommended in national guidelines.

"It is very encouraging to see that the Surgeon General's Call to Action promotes both walking and walking environments, since it's very difficult to do one without the other" said U-M School of Public Health Professor and HEP Director Amy Schulz, who recently published a research paper about how a group of Detroiters reduced risks of cardiovascular disease through regular group-walking. "Environments matter, and it's inspiring to see how many Detroiters are finding and claiming their own favorite places to walk in the city."

Alex Allen, Executive Director of Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC) and a HEP Steering Committee member elaborates: "One of the strategic goals of the Surgeon General's Call to Action is to promote programs and policies to support walking where people live, work, and play. The videos submitted show that there are many fabulous walking paths and locations in Detroit. We hope they help to inspire more Detroiters to get out and use them."

HEP Community Outreach Coordinator Cindy Gamboa said she admires the enthusiasm Detroiters have for walking in the city, and she encourages residents to contact HEP if they'd like help connecting with a walking group in their neighborhood.




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