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Walkability Expert Comes to Kansas

The nation’s leading walkability expert Dan Burden visited Wichita in November to lead a “walkability audit” of the Schweiter East Neighborhood.

See Also: Improving Towns One Walk at a Time

AARP Kansas, working with the Visioneering Wichita Older Adult Alliance and the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging, brought Burden to the state’s largest city to discuss the benefits of active community environments.

The event started with an Active Living Workshop presentation at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 856 South Green Street which was attended by area residents, city and county officials, AARP volunteers and staff and members of the Alliance. This was followed by a walking audit, or walking workshop, of the Schweiter East Neighborhood where participants experienced first-hand, conditions that impact walking and biking in the neighborhood. For residents who know the neighborhood well, it was a chance to view the corridor through a new lens, and to share the experience with others who are passionate about creating and maintaining a safe, walkable, and healthy community.

Burden, executive director of the non-profit Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, presented his findings and recommendations from the walking audit later that day.

The workshop highlighted links between economic vitality, public health and transportation.

“In many parts of the country, we have engineered activity out of our daily lives by building streets that accommodate only cars, not people,” Burden said. “Unfortunately, this has negatively affected the health and economic vitality of our communities. We can do better.”

“We understand the impacts of the built environment on both individual health and the economic vitality of a region,” said Maren Turner, AARP Kansas Director. “The Active Living Workshop is a commitment by AARP Kansas, the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging, and the Visioneering Wichita Older Adult Alliance to invest in initiatives at the local level that will improve quality of life for all.”

The Active Living Workshop will help participants, including Wichita city officials and leaders, recognize how planning and design influences community-building, while giving participants a toolkit to draw from to build healthier places.

Work on this project continues. Stay tuned for more to come.

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