Walkable Communities Initiative

Nebraska Walkable Communities Project—Background and Overview

Overall Project Strategy-purpose and Outcomes

The overall purpose, guiding this project to success through 2019, is to:

  •  Directly engage and empower 11+ communities to create strategic plans and multi-year initiatives to increase walkability and overall health in each community;
  •  Create on-the- ground successes that result in positive key health indicators, updated master plans, passage of policies including complete streets, or link together other tools andstrategies to promote walkable communities; and,
  •  Create a strong Steering Committee that provides a network of experts and technical assistance providers allowing Nebraska communities to achieve increased walkability and overall health.

The steering committee is comprised of different stakeholder groups, both local and statewide, that support the project, provide leadership on statewide initiatives, and provide technical assistance to local communities. Supporting the local community action includes work in:

Communications: Developing an easy-to- use brand for the project and help to spread the word;

Partnership Engagement: Engaging the right partners, both local and statewide, to support the work and leaders in a variety of capacities;

Statewide Policy: Educating local and statewide advocates and decision-makers on policy changes that can support local action to increase walking, biking, and overall health;

Training and Technical Assistance: Assisting local communities and their leaders in developing their action plans, engaging the community to implement action, and specific training and technical assistance relating to the education, encouragement, and policy work of the local communities.

The purpose for the community-driven strategic planning process, which will guide our work with each of the selected communities, is to:

  •  Build a common understanding that embraces opportunities and overcomes barriers for the selected community to increase walkability and overall health;
  •  Energize the leadership, key stakeholders, and community members around an inspiring vision of the community’s potential to increase walkability and overall health;
  •  Lead to a concrete action plan and a clear roadmap for a multi-year strategic plan for thecommunity to increase walkability and overall health.

Targeted Communities For This Project:

  •  Fairbury- Public Health Solutions
  •  Grand Island- Central District Health Department
  •  Hastings- South Heartland District Health Department
  •  Hebron- Public Health Solutions
  •  Kearney- Two Rivers Public Health Department
  •  Lexington- Two Rivers Public Health Department
  •  Omaha (east of 42nd st)- Douglas County Health Department
  •  Scottsbluff – Panhandle Public Health Department
  •  Sidney- Panhandle Public Health Department
  •  Superior- South Heartland District Health Department

On the ground successes include:

  •  6 of 7 community-driven action plans and summits completed
  •  6 comprehensive plans reviewed and shared with communities at the summits
  •  #5 ranking of Omaha’s Complete Streets policy nationally (http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/best-complete- streets-policies- of-2015)
  •  4 new organization/program partners joining in the initiative to push for more walkable communities: AARP Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Economic Development Nebraska Department of Tourism and DHHS Comprehensive Cancer Control Program
  •  4 webinars scheduled in June and July to train and educate partners in local communities
  •  3 city council resolutions passed in Superior, Hebron and Sidney prioritizing walking, biking and overall health
  •  2 Walk It Guide Trainings done in Omaha and Lincoln and 1 scheduled for Sidney in June
  •  1 communication plan created- Step and Repeat
  •  1 national presentation on our state initiative at the Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Portland, OR in February 2016
  •  1 state presentation on our state initiative at the Nebraska Zoning and Planning Conference in the spring of 2016
  •  1 discussion on a comprehensive evaluation of the whole process—positive evaluations received thus far