Authored by Keith Benjamin and Mikaela Randolph.
Over the past year, the Safe Routes Partnership has collaborated with the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), an organization working to champion social justice and achieve parity and empowerment for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. APPEAL works by supporting and mobilizing community-led movements through advocacy and leadership development on critical public health issues. As national and local conversations continue over the complexities of obesity, physical activity, and access in underserved and communities of color, it only made sense that our organizations locked arms.
In fall 2014, members of our team attended the APPEAL's 20th Annual Conference, where we saw firsthand how important advocacy tools are for communities to have in hand as they engage decision makers in creating safer and healthier communities. As the Safe Routes Partnership has engaged with expanding Safe Routes to School work outside of traditional bounds and making sure that our work is innovative and inclusive across the board, we have seen that it is imperative not only that citizens in communities understand the factors inhibiting their access to healthy, safe physical activity opportunities, but that they are empowered to advocate for community-driven solutions to these problems to their elected leaders, decision makers, and program influencers.
To meet that need, the Safe Routes Partnership, together with APPEAL and the New York-based Coalition For Asian American Children And Families, has released four tools to help Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian communities use street scale and shared use initiatives to address community needs.
- Making Our Communities Healthy Through Bicycling and Walking to School provides an introduction to how Safe Routes to School can address a wide array of community problems, and lays out immediate actions advocates can take to make Safe Routes to School a priority in their communities.
- Safety and Health for All Ages: Safe Routes to School in Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities sets out Safe Routes to School tactics to improving safety and preventing tragedy, provides an array of statistics and case studies showing how AANHPI communities are using Safe Routes to School to improve health and well being, and addresses how to increase physical activity through changes in the built environment.
- What Is Shared Use? Supporting Health in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities is a one page factsheet that acquaints AANHPI communities with the concept of shared use and its benefits.
- Shared Use 101: The Nuts and Bolts of Improving Health Through Shared Use in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities highlights why shared use is important for Asian American communities and how it can increase opportunities for physical activity, explores strategies for overcoming obstacles, and provides additional resources.
In the words of U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, insufficient physical activity opportunities have “severe impacts on urban populations struggling with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic illness. Opportunities to enjoy outdoor activity are vital for public health and the wellbeing of people of all ages and walks of life."
We hope these new tools empower communities towards advocacy to address these challenges. We thank APPEAL for their continued partnership and their dedication to health equity in Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities.