A Grassroots Approach to Chelsea's Walk-to-School Initiative

The working group meeting in Chelsea to discuss walking to school initiatives

A new grassroots effort is underway to improve walk-to-school conditions for Chelsea youth. The initiative will be lead by The Community Health Leaders of Chelsea and assisted by Social Captital Inc., Healthy Chelsea, Walk Boston, The Neighborhood Developers  and Chelsea Public Schools. On September 30th a working group met to provide training to The Community Health Leaders of Chelsea.  

During the training, Walk Boston, Social Capital Inc., and Healthy Chelsea all spoke of ways in which The Community Health Leaders could start educating the public and gain a following. Healthy Chelsea spoke about the importance of overall community health, access to a variety of healthy food at corner stores and restaurants and bringing children into parks.

Walk Boston presented on the health benefits of walking and exercise and creative ways in which The Community Health Leaders can move their initiative forward.  Walk audits (canvassing of walking routes to assess safety conditions) were discussed as an option, as well as the responsibility parents, children, drivers and cyclists must take on while sharing roadways.

Social Capital Inc. introduced the concept of social capital and how The Community Health Leaders can use good community networks to gain support for their cause. Additionally, SCI ran an interactive exercise where The Community Health Leaders brainstormed leadership qualities and tools they could use to gain support and educate the community.  

 

Several ideas were discussed including:

  • Use incentives contests with prizes to gain interest in the program 

  • Make walking to school  fun and interesting

  • Have motivated parents    

  • Familiarize people with walking routes

  • Use local news and social media to promote the initiative 

  • Educate people via pamphlets, word of mouth and media

The working group is scheduled to meet at least once a month for the next several months to share progress and strategies. For more information or to get involved with The Community Health Leaders, contact Daniel Arrick of Social Capital Inc. at darrick@socialcapital.org