Big Sandy Walk-About
May 16, 2018
Rotary was granted a small grant which allowed a committee of five to attend Building Active Communities Initiative (BACI) 2019 Action Institute, a conference to determine if it was possible to create safe walking paths in Big Sandy. Carla and Raymond Courtnage, Rhonda Works, Krystyl Kulbeck and Lorrie Merrill attend a two-day conference with a wide variety of professionals in attendance. The goal is for Big Sandy to have safe, accessible walking routes that connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, churches, businesses and other destinations.
Mark Fenton was the key speaker. He is a nationally recognized public health, planning, and transportation consultant, and adjunct associate professor at Tuft University. He also hosted America's Walking on PBS television. We took a walk audit and learned how to evaluate what we needed to do here in Big Sandy. We visited a triangle of support for local fresh food that served the community of Livingston. These efforts compliment the extensive walking routes in Livingston. The high school received a $100,000 grant for a greenhouse. The food bank serves fresh and frozen local foods and also supplies healthy senior meals. The hospital is also a destination food hub that cooks and serves fresh and local food. The BACI Action institute believes in a total healthy lifestyle approach.
For Big Sandy, the priority will be to develop a sidewalk route from the high school, to down town, and then to the grade school. There would also be an opportunity to develop three other routes, but these wouldn't be until the first route was completed and that route will take a number of years. The Rotary committee clearly needs further input from the community and from the experts before trying to write any grants to help pay for the project. This project although doable will take 3-5 years to complete. Krystyl Kulbeck said, "I feel like the institute was very positive and gave us great ideas going forward. We have a great team that can make things happen and hopefully reach our goals. If we can succeed it will lead to a healthier Big Sandy population which I'm very excited about. I look forward to seeing the kids walk safely around town."
Although the top purpose for creating a sidewalk is to make sure the children of Big Sandy can walk or ride their bikes safely to school, we also learned so much about the health of all communities in the state and the need to have walking route for all our citizens. For the first-time life expediency has been shortened in the United States. This is caused by poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. Being sedentary is now considered to be as bad as smoking for the cause of cancer. We need 150 minutes a week of exercise. In 1986 7% of adults in Montana were obese. Now in 2018 25 % of Montana are obese. However, 60% of Montana's are at an unhealthy weight. 75% of adults are not meeting their physical activity recommendations. 72% of the youth are not meeting physical activity recommendations in the state of Montana.
Watch for further announcement for local involvement starting this fall.