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People-powered transportation workshop May 10

SIMCOE, ON, APRIL 30, 2007 – Alarmed by rising obesity in the Canadian population, a local group has launched a campaign to make Norfolk County a healthier place through more walking and cycling and less driving.
Health Action, in partnership with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, is holding a workshop open to all Norfolk residents on Thursday, May 10, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Simcoe branch of the Norfolk Public Library, 46 Colborne St., S., to gather community support for the concept.

“We will use information gathered at the workshop as a first step in creating a healthier, more walkable, more cycling-friendly Norfolk,” said Heather Keam, Heart Health Coordinator for Health Action, a Haldimand-Norfolk heart health and cancer prevention program made up more than 30 community-based organizations and individuals.

The workshop follows alarming research on overweight and obesity among Canadians, and people’s increasing reliance on driving.
“We are a society of drivers,” Keam noted. “Yet many of our destinations can also be reached by walking or cycling. We know there are countless benefits to being active, but we’re still getting behind the wheel. This workshop is about the barriers that prevent us from choosing people-powered transportation.”

Participants will be asked to rate Simcoe’s “walkability” factor. “Many things can encourage active transportation,” explained Michele Crowley, a Health Unit Health Promoter. “For example, are the sidewalks in good condition? Are shops and other destinations within walking distance? Is the neighbourhood safe and appealing? Are there enough pedestrian crossings? All of these questions will be addressed.”

Eventually, the group plans to examine the walkability factors within all build-up areas of Norfolk.
Research shows that residents of walkable and cycling-friendly communities experience numerous benefits, including healthier body weights, improved water and air quality, reduced road injuries and fatalities, improved quality of life, and a greater sense of community.

The workshop was initiated by walkON, a partnership of several municipalities in central west Ontario that have identified a need for walkable communities – Haldimand County, Norfolk County, Brant County, Halton Region, Region of Waterloo, Niagara Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. The local Health Action group is a member of WalkON whose mission is to promote the development of communities that support people-powered transportation.

For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Heather Keam, Heart Health Coordinator, at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170 Ext. 3208.

Media contact:
Heather Keam, 519-426-6170, Ext. 3208. or Michele Crowley, 519-426-6170, Ext. 3239.