From its beginning, Walk Boston has worked to bring new participants into the planning processes of transportation and smart growth development, particularly under-represented groups often left out of the conversation. For example, in efforts reaching out to young people, Walk Boston developed training programs, materials, and a curriculum to teach teens how to work with public agencies and developers to support the walking needs of their communities.
Working with local teens as part of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness (CUFF) and Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), Walk Boston taught youth in Dorchester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan and Roxbury how to assess the safety and attractiveness of primary walking routes by looking at features such as litter free sidewalks, safe street crossings, freshly painted crosswalks, and Complete Streets designs. With adult partners, the youth formed survey teams to record, map and photograph walking conditions. They documented cracked sidewalks, faded crosswalks, un-trimmed hedges, inadequate WALK time in signal cycles and wide street corners that enabled cars to speed around corners into crossing pedestrians. The teens developed Power Point presentations that they then brought to neighborhood meetings and City Hall to discuss how to encourage more active lifestyles or comment on proposed street designs in their neighborhoods. WalkBoston's teen programs give young people the skills they need to confidently speak up about safe walking in their communities.
Our programs teach youth how to read roadway/ sidewalk plans, undertake pedestrian counts, and assess the physical features that make walking a safe and convenient mode of transportation. As a result, the new advocates we have educated have been able to work with municipal officials to design safer intersections, widen sidewalks, repair streetlights and speak up at community meetings for the needs of walkers.