The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) awarded the City of Woburn an $8,700 wellness grant as part of the Middlesex Community Transformation Grant on Wednesday to help promote safe walking for school children.
According to a release from MAPC, the Middlesex Community Transformation Grant, awarded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a $1.6 million grant designed to help states and communities tackle the root causes of chronic disease. MAPC collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to write the community transformation grant for Middlesex County.
Woburn will use the wellness grant to work with the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program to conduct assessments of walkability conditions for five Woburn schools: Altavesta Elementary School, the Goodyear School, the Linscott-Rumford Elementary School, Clyde Reeves Elementary School and Joyce Middle School.
“The City of Woburn stands ready to continue the work we have made to promote safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, and in daily life, to improve the health and well-being of all residents,” said Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin.
The assessments will look at sidewalk networks and pedestrian amenities, which contribute to safe walking routes, the release states. The Woburn School Department will also work with Safe Routes to School on educational and promotional tools that encourage walking and biking as a healthy mode of transportation.
“Woburn is literally showing us the path toward healthier lifestyles and more active kids," said U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "By making Woburn's paths safer and more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, Woburn is providing residents healthy transportation alternatives that promote physical activity and battle rising levels of obesity."
According to the release, MAPC awarded six wellness grants to municipalities within Middlesex County that do not currently receive Mass in Motion funding from DPH. Mass in Motion is a statewide program that promotes wellness and aims to reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese by focusing on healthy eating and physical activity at home, at work, and in the community.
The goals of Mass in Motion and the Community Transformation Grant include reducing health disparities, particularly among low-income, minority, and underserved populations, who often suffer from higher rates of diseases associated with smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity, the release states.