Different generations in Texas can find common ground with the State Walking College program offered through America Walks.
The program “is a 6-month, distance-learning fellowship program for walkable community advocates” that seeks “to build the capacity of local advocates to advance policy, systems, and environment change to create healthy, walkable communities.”
Ian Thomas from America Walks told KXAN, “We focus on building the capacity of local advocates to make change in their own communities.”
The Walking College program is partially sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which helped develop the educational program.
“At the younger adult and at the older adult phase, people are seeing the benefits of living somewhere where you don’t need a car,” Thomas continued.
In past years, students have completed projects such as developing walking school bus programs to promote non-motorized travel to school, creating awareness campaigns, using the arts to make communities more walkable, and conducting comprehensive audits to aid in prioritizing improvements.
A recent graduate of the program, Addie Walker, explained that she wanted to use her new knowledge to make her home city of Austin more walk-friendly for the community.
“I find that in the States, especially in really car-dependent cities, you lose that sense of connection with your community, when you’re just getting in your car and driving home,” she suggested.
“I think that a community that is built sustainably and that relies on multimodal transportation — walking, biking, rolling — is a more holistic and complete community,” Walker continued.
America Walks is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating enjoyable, accessible, and safe places to walk in communities. The organization claims to be “a national voice on walking and walkable communities and works to increase the visibility and demand for public places that allow all people to move and walk in ways that are safe and make the most sense for them.”
Other states participating in the education program include Georgia, South Dakota, Alabama, Colorado, and Maine.