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Iowa Communities Take Steps to Become Healthier, More Livable

PHOTO: An AARP study says 90 percent of the 45+ population would like to stay in their community and near family and friends as they age. Making it convenient to walk instead of drive is one way to help. Photo credit: AnneCN/Flickr
PHOTO: An AARP study says 90 percent of the 45+ population would like to stay in their community and near family and friends as they age. Making it convenient to walk instead of drive is one way to help. Photo credit: AnneCN/Flickr
July 28, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – It's said to be a key factor in creating healthier and more livable communities, and the walkability of Iowa towns and cities is taking center stage this week.

Residents, elected officials and municipal leaders will gather Wednesday and Thursday in Des Moines to learn how to improve walkability.

Connie Eastman, associate state director of community outreach for AARP Iowa, says walkability benefits all, including those older adults who want to age in place.

"Access to safe streets for all people of all ages to walk, bike or use assistive devices to get from their home, school, shops and recreation can make a big impact, and help them stay where they want to stay as they get older – in their home and in their community," she stresses.

This week's walkability events are free and open to the public and will be led by national expert Dan Burden, who's been called one of the most important civic innovators in the world.

Eastman says there are a number of ways that Iowa communities can improve walkability, including many projects as simple as painting a crosswalk at an intersection or adding a curb cut to a sidewalk.

"To help people access that sidewalk, that's a good thing for a senior who may be using a cane or a walker, a mom who uses a stroller, or a kid who's on a bicycle,” she explains. “So, by improving streets and helping people be more active, it will in turn improve their health."



John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA