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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2017

DOH Hosts USVI Walkability Event, Making Physical Activity a Territory-Wide Priority

The USVI Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) and the Task Force for Global Health (TEPHINET) hosted a Walkability Institute on June 13-14, 2017. It was held at the Bernie & Martha Conference Center, located at the Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix. The Walkability Institute engaged stakeholders from both the public and private sector—Governor’s Office, Department of Public Works, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation, senators/ legislature representatives, V.I. Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, local walking coalitions/groups, and community foundations. The Institute was led by Mark Fenton, a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant. 

The Institute was a follow up to a walkability audit that was conducted in May 2016 on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John to measure street-level support and barriers to physical activity. The walkability audit was a result of 2010 data that indicated one in three adults in the USVI were physically inactive. The audit assessed the prevalence of community and street-scale design features (sidewalks/paths, crosswalks, lighting, etc.) that promote walking among streets in the territory. 

Download the Walkability Audit

Over the course of the two-day institute, stakeholders drafted an action plan to initiate small-scale projects that would alter the current landscape in a way that promotes safety and encourages physical activity. The objective is to encourage community members to walk and bike from where they live, work and play. Another objective is to promote safe routes to schools and recreational parks. Dr. Michelle S. Davis, Commissioner of Health, welcomed participants to the workshop and endorsed the Surgeon General’s Call, to Step It Up, an Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities report (see link to Surgeon General’s report below). Dr. Davis encouraged the teams to implement their action plans and to continue collaborative efforts that promote extension of projects and create policies that will increase physical activity in the territory. “The DOH’s Chronic Disease Prevention Program in collaboration with our stakeholders are committed to promoting programs and policies and designing communities that support walking and biking,” said Commissioner Davis. 

Surgeons Call to Action: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/call-to-action/pdf/partnerguide.pdf. A copy of the full walkability audit is available at http://doh.vi.gov/programs/chronic-disease/index.html 

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