Walkability Action Institute

The Walkability Action Institute is a program of
the Center for Advancing Healthy Communities. ​

About the Walkability Action Institute 

NACDD believes all states and communities should be designed to support physical activity and non-motorized forms of transportation so that people can have the policy, system, and environmental (PSE) supports needed to engage in active lifestyles, whether recreationally or through essential daily functions like commuting to and from work, to community destinations, and/or places of interest (community events, schools, shopping, etc.). 

Karma Edwards, NACDD Consultant, is a woman with blonde hair and a pink short sleeve shirt who writes on a large pad in front of a group of people

This vision would yield access and opportunity for active living through multiple community sectors, and could reduce the behavior of physical inactivity over the long-term, which is a main risk factor for chronic diseases and leading causes of death and debilitation like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, and type II diabetes. 

NACDD realizes that making states and communities more walkable is not just a public health problem; it involves public health counterparts including transportation, planning, education, elected officials, economic development, housing, transit, parks and recreation, and a variety of advocacy groups. 

A group of WAI participants attend a walkability audit 2018

To this end, NACDD collaborates and receives financial support from the CDC Division of Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) to plan, implement, and evaluate a Walkability Action Institute (WAI) as a multi-day “course” for interdisciplinary teams. Each year, interdisciplinary four-to-six-member teams, comprised of public health, transportation, planning, elected officials, and other disciplines apply to receive travel assistance to attend the course, develop team action plans, and implement PSE outcomes to make their communities, regions, and states more walkable over the long term. The course combines traditional learning methods with robust  activities and outdoor learning.

NACDD tracks the outcomes achieved by alumni teams semi-annually and convenes ongoing Walkability Community of Practice groups bi-monthly.

Project Partners and Course Steering Committee Members

NACDD is proud to collaborate with the following project partners, organizations and/or Course Steering Committee members:

  1. Active Living By Design (Phil Bors)
  2. America Walks (Ian Thomas)
  3. CDC Division of Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity (Kristine Day, Margo Younger)
  4. Mark Fenton
  5. National Physical Activity Society (Pam Eidson) 

An older man in a wheelchair wearing a light blue button up shirt teaches a class.

Project Participants

To date, NACDD implemented the WAI to a total of 41 interdisciplinary teams across four cohort years. Different from the inaugural year’s focus on interdisciplinary state level teams, the focus for Years 2, 3, and 4 was interdisciplinary regional teams through the metropolitan planning organization (MPO), or regional equivalent. Below is the full list of NACDD WAI teams.

The following 10 regional teams will be attending and receiving travel assistance for the 2019 WAI, April 22-25 in Decatur, Ga.:

  • Broward County, Florida (Broward MPO)
  • Clackamas County, Oregon (Clackamas County Public Health Department)
  • Daytona, Florida (River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization)
  • Fort Collins, Colorado (North Front Range MPO)
  • Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vermont (Northwest Regional Planning Commission)
  • Lane County, Oregon (Central Lane MPO/Lane Council of Governments)
  • Marshall County, Indiana (Michiana Area Council of Governments)
  • Maui, Hawaii (Maui MPO)
  • Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission)
  • Spokane, Washington (Spokane Regional Transportation Council)
  1. Albuquerque, New Mexico (Mid-Region Council of Government)
  2. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Allegheny County Health Department)
  3. Anchorage, Alaska (Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions)
  4. Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Eau Claire City-County Health Department)
  5. Hidalgo County, Texas (Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council)
  6. Las Vegas, Nevada (Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada)
  7. Lawrence-Douglas County, Kansas (City of Lawrence)
  8. Richmond, Virginia (Richmond City Health District)
  9. Springfield, Missouri (Ozark Greenways)

The Year 4 WAI will take place April 9 – 12, 2018 in Decatur, Georgia. Stay tuned for course pictures and outcomes!

  1.  Cleveland, Tennessee (Cleveland Urban Area MPO)
  2.  Cook County, Illinois (Cook County Department of Public Health)
  3.  Corridor, Iowa (Linn County Public Health/Corridor MPO)
  4.  Duluth, Minnesota (St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services)
  5.  Flint, Michigan (Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission)
  6.  Mansfield, Ohio (Richland County Regional Planning Commission)
  7.  Oahu, Hawaii (Oahu MPO)
  8.  Puget Sound Region, Washington (Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)
  9.  Rochester, New York (Genesee Transportation Council MPO)
  10.  Tulsa, Oklahoma (Indian Nations Council of Government/Tulsa Health Department)

Read a blog about the 2017 WAI!

Here’s what Year 3 participants said about the course:

  • Faculty challenged us to think big and choose something hard – not necessarily the easy stuff. Do this more!!!” (Year 3 Participant)
  • Faculty presentations and having faculty as resource ongoing was AMAZING!” (Year 3 Participant)
  • The interactive sessions (i.e. walk audit and scavenger hunt), and the panel of projects around Atlanta were super helpful and inspiring.” (Year 3 Participant)
  • Loved the scavenger hunt and walk audit – practical application that helps me see what we are learning …” (Year 3 Participant)
  • This was the first time (after attending these types of gatherings for 12 years) I felt the issues faced by non-choice users, LMI communities, black/brown people, and PWD were give a degree of space, time, and attention they deserve.” (Year 3 Participant)
  • The initial points of linking walking to our health, economic development, and social outcome. Very powerful. The strong challenge to use to act!” (Year 3 Participant)
  • I would say this experience exceeded my expectations by a long way. Good work.” (Year 3 Participant)
  • It was so fun to get to know my group. Even though that happened outside the 8-5, this course definitely facilitated that.” (Year 3 Participant)
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! Our team loved this!” (Year 3 Participant)
  1. Austin, Texas (Capital Area MPO)
  2. Chattanooga, Tennessee (Chattanooga-Hamilton County/North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization)
  3. Des Moines, Iowa (Des Moines Area MPO)
  4. Grand Island, Nebraska (Grand Island MPO)
  5. Grand Rapids, Michigan (West Michigan MPO)
  6. Greenville, North Carolina (Greenville Urban Area MPO)
  7. Hartford, Connecticut (Capitol Region Council of Governments)
  8. Holland, Michigan (Macatawa Area Coordinating Council)
  9. Knoxville, Tennessee (Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization)
  10. Portland, Maine (Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System)

 Here’s what Year 2 participants said about the course:

  • The interactive components of the course kept you engaged in the discussed topics.” (Year 2 Participant)
  • The real life examples from local communities were very exciting (especially from Decatur).” (Year 2 Participant)
  • Very organized process, application, and institute!” (Year 2 Participant)
  • The hands-on experiences were amazing and the presentations fit into that perfectly.” (Year 2 Participant)
  • This was an excellent conference — networking and real-world audits were great!” (Year 2 Participant)
  1. Arkansas (State Level Team)
  2. Colorado (State Level Team)
  3. Indiana (State Level Team)
  4. Michigan (State Level Team)
  5. Minnesota (Intra-State Regional Team; Southwest Minnesota)
  6. Montana (State Level Team)
  7. New Hampshire (State Level Team)
  8. Ohio (State Level Team)
  9. Oregon (State Level Team)
  10. Tennessee (State Level Team)
  11. Virginia (State Level Team)
  12. Wisconsin (Intra-State Regional Team; Fox Valley Region)

Here’s what Year 1 participants said about the course:

  • Good to hear from others and local leaders on real steps to implementation.” (Year 1 Participant)
  • Mark Fenton is a very knowledgeable and tremendous trainer.” (Year 1 Participant)
  • As a team, we are excited to bring what we learned home.” (Year 1 Participant)
  • The balance of team time with intermixing with other state teams was good.” (Year 1 Participant)
  • Great start on a new way of thinking!” (Year 1 Participant)

More Resources

View more information about the CDC Division of Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity.

A white cane leads a person long a street with multiple yellow lines.

Careers at NACDD

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