- We Walk PHL benefits the physical health of participants and generates unexpected social and emotional impacts.
- A small grant of $10,000 got the program off the ground.
- Walkers discuss with each other their social isolation, depression, and anxiety, as well as how the walking program has improved their mental well-being.
- Participants report that they have learned much about the ecology and habitat of parks and that they now feel more connected to their community and are comfortable using the park system.
- The sheer distance between walk sites can be challenging, as it is difficult to distribute supplies, gather sign-in sheets, and fill in for walk leaders when last-minute cancellations arise.
- A part-time seasonal staff member who acts as the We Walk PHL program coordinator and visits a different walk site every day helped the program run more efficiently.
This free walking program promotes healthy lifestyles, increases the use of local parks, and creates opportunities for neighbors to meet each other and pursue fitness goals together.
Launched as a pilot program in 2017 with a small grant from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, We Walk PHL is a partner program run collaboratively by Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the Department of Public Health.
Results have been impressive! The walking group meets several times per week at twelve parks across the city and runs for 8 weeks in the spring and 8 weeks in the fall. Walking group leaders are recruited from the communities surrounding the parks and receive training from We Walk program staff. Walks take place one-three days per week at each site and last around an hour.
Walking groups connect during end-of-the season picnics in the park and through the Park Hopper Challenge where prizes are offered to walkers who visit multiple walking sites. Walkers also connect via an active Facebook group page where they support each other and post inspirational stories, challenges, and photos from their walks.
For more information:
Fairmount Park Conservancy