Feet First Programs
For the past ten years, Feet First has been the established leader in working to ensure all communities across Washington State are walkable. Walking is a vital transportation mode connecting neighborhoods, reducing pollution, and promoting good health. Feet First achieves its mission by successfully reaching out to elected officials, community members, planning commissioners, planners, engineers, healthcare professionals, developers, school officials, and other non-profit activists to support pedestrian policies, plans, laws, and physical improvements that improve safety, mobility, and access for all.
Safe Route to School (SRTS):
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past thirty years. Getting more kids to walk to school every day will improve their health, and help instill walking as a lifelong healthy habit. Feet First has implemented SRTS programs over the past seven years, providing direct service in schools located in at risk neighborhoods in south King County and Seattle. We have developed the first Pedestrian Safety Curriculum to support 150 PE instructors (5th-8th grades) supporting over 20,000 students.
Our walking audits bring together city officials, students, business leaders, parents and other interested community leaders to identify improvements to make it easier and safer to go by foot. Whether citizens are choosing to connect with the bus, get to school, to the store, community activities or work everyone walks. In just one year we completed 20 walking audits, identifying top observations and recommendations to make changes to the walking environment. Our findings have become part of the overall program direction for the schools and assist with the development of walk route maps.
Neighborhood Walking Ambassador Program:
We have trained 20 walking ambassadors to lead neighborhood walks in their community that inspire, connect and inform the community about neighborhood assets. We recently developed the first Watershed Walks program attracting 10 individuals excited to learn more about combining the cooperative excitement of group walking with the environmental education of the Longfellow Creek Watershed. Individuals learn the history and restoration efforts, what it means to be a Neighborhood Walking Ambassador, essentials for leading an interpretive walk, and the effects of human activity along the creek.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Feet First has experience using technology to increase engagement of youth through the Feet First CD Street Stories project, which invited students from Garfield and Nova High Schools to take digital photos overlaid with narrative of the walking environment around their schools and neighborhoods. These CD Street Stories were later shown at a showcase event at a local movie theatre.
Feet First is currently participating in a multi-media project in Rainier Beach called “Touchstones”. This project uses smartphone technology, including QR codes, to allow people to access historical and cultural information on around ten local landmarks in the community. This integration of new technology brings a creative resource to the community, overlaying art, history, and community development. In addition to the QR code, we are working with youth at Rainier Beach High School to support storytelling through the use of IPod Touches. These devices are set up to create movies of the area around Rainier Beach, which in turn will support the QR code information by providing different channels of information for a person to learn more about the area.
We recognized there is a need to get the community more engaged in changing their environment.We are looking to create a mobile application that will run on smart phones and will facilitate data collection on walking conditions within a community. Building on our success and strategy with our walking audits and neighborhood walking ambassador program, we will incorporate into the mobile application a means for residents to record information on walking hazards in their community. This application of technology and community connection will provide an easy way for advocates to share with the local news media and politicians about people's pedestrian concerns.