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Wolf Administration Highlights Grants to Increase Access to Physical Activity Options

by Office of Governor Tom Wolf

Wolf Administration Highlights Grants to Increase Access to Physical Activity Options

The Wolf Administration Wednesday visited Mechanicsburg Borough, one of the eight communities receiving grants this year to help develop transportation opportunities and polices to increase physical activity.

“Having safe and convenient access to areas for recreation like walking and biking is essential to keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy,” Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “Physical activity can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and premature death. Being active also helps prevent weight gain, reduce depression and improve cognitive function in older adults. We are proud of this collaboration and the grants provided to support and encourage safe physical activity.”

The grants are from the WalkWorks program run by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. This year, eight communities are receiving grants totaling $168,000. This program continues to benefit from its close partnership with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its generous funding of two of the grant recipients.

“Participating in outdoor recreational activities regularly provides immediate and long-term health benefits,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Pennsylvania has a beautiful landscape to achieve these health benefits, and programs like WalkWorks equip more communities to have safe and accessible routes nearest them. DCNR is thrilled to continue working through the WalkWorks program to support the development of community-level active transportation plans and similar policies aimed at promoting physical activity outdoors across the commonwealth.”

This year’s grant recipients are:

With this funding, community leaders will be working over the next year with professional transportation and community planners to collect data, assess current conditions and aspirations, and incorporate public input to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and transit networks.

“Our goal is safe, accessible, and inviting active transportation options for all, not just the fit and fearless,” Samantha Pearson, Healthy Communities Program Manager at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center and coordinator of the WalkWorks Program said. “WalkWorks helps communities understand and apply best practices and principles to transportation planning. With vehicle crashes causing ever-increasing injuries and deaths among people walking and riding, it is urgent work across the country and in Pennsylvania.”

“Pennsylvanians deserve safe transportation access no matter how they travel,” PennDOT Acting Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Andy Batson said. “This initiative recognizes and invests in the unbreakable link between community connectivity and our citizens’ health and mobility.”

PennDOT published the 2019 Statewide Active Transportation Plan to focus on active options for functional transportation as much as, or even more so than, recreation/tourism and on ensuring those possibilities are open to all. WalkWorks grants are intended to foster the connections and needed coordination between transportation policy and public health.

“The Borough of Mechanicsburg is honored to be one of the recipients of this grant,” Mechanicsburg Borough Council President Kyle Miller said. “This grant will help us improve walkability in the borough and ensure that walkers are able to do so safely. We will also be able to take a look at how to promote bike safety on borough and state roads as well as develop safer connections between public spaces such as parks, schools and downtown businesses. This is vital as we continue our work to make Mechanicsburg a great place to live, work, and visit.”

“I encourage everyone to incorporate activity-friendly routes into daily routines whenever possible,” said Dr. Johnson. “The WalkWorks program is committed to expanding walkability, bikeability, accessibility and connectivity to transit across Pennsylvania. Together, we can encourage people to be healthier versions of themselves and continue the department’s mission of creating a healthy Pennsylvania for all.”

Funding for the grants is provided from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under both the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and State Physical Activity and Nutrition Grant programs as well as additional funding from DCNR.

The grant recipients were selected from a competitive pool of high-quality applicants by a multidisciplinary review team that included representatives from DOH, the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and their Local Technical Assistance Program, DCNR and the Department of Community and Economic Development.

To get more information about WalkWorks visit

Visit the Explore PA Trails and Get Outdoors PA website for information on recreational resources near you.