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Title: health and fitness
Hosted by AmericanTrails.org

Trails for Life! Collaborative promotes trail activity

Redding, CA encourages physical activity through awareness and access to trails.

arrow See A Shared Vision, Spanning Decades: The Redding Area’s Trail System

"TLC will improve the health of families and communities through increased access to and use of trails."

The Trails for Life! Collaborative's (TLC) mission is to improve the health of families and communities by increasing access to trails and promoting both their use and importance for increased physical activity. TLC will develop and implement strategies in two local communities, one urban and one rural, that will increase opportunities for and remove barriers to routine physical activity. The emphasis will be on long-term change through community design, trail planning, heightened awareness of active community environments, physical activity promotion, and increased trail use. TLC will engage the community, identify existing trails to highlight, advocate for more accessible trailheads and trail connectivity, share information and build synergy.

From TLC's local efforts, rural and urban models will be developed that can be adopted by communities across the nation. The model will be based on building relationships in order to improve and expand trails as a means to increase physical activity in the community and will share strategies, steps, experiences, and lessons learned in Shasta County and the experience of the group's partners. The model will then be promoted throughout the country via American Trails' vast network, including a website, national publications, the National Trails Symposiums, and other venues.

American Trails (AT) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and enhancement of a national trails infrastructure that meets the recreation, health, and travel needs of all Americans. To accomplish this mission, AT coordinates the National Trails Symposium biennially and implements the National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP) and the Universal Trail Assessment Process program. AT's strength lies in its experience, diversity and extensive, well-established communications network of trail builders, managers, policy makers and users. Visit the American Trails website with hundreds of resources for trails and greenways planning, design, management, and promotion at www.americantrails.org.

Shasta County Public Health (SCPH) is a progressive health department dedicated to working with communities to protect and improve health. SCPH fosters collaboration and policy change and they have the capacity to access rural, low income and ethnically diverse populations through their community partnerships and regional offices.

The City of Redding has articulated a vision for an integrated system of parks and open spaces linked to neighborhoods and major destinations by outstanding trails, bikeways, and linear parks in the Redding General Plan. The City's contribution to this project will be infrastructure design and development, recreation programming, and public education.

Intermountain Action, Growth and Education (IMAGE) is a regional coalition of organizations and individuals working to improve community and family health in very rural Eastern Shasta County. Schools, Chambers of Commerce, health care, Native American organizations and business are actively involved. Development and promotion of a regional trail system has been prioritized. As a partner, IMAGE will identify and address the unique challenges to health improvement and trail development faced by unincorporated rural communities.

The Population and Community

Shasta County is located in a predominately rural area of far northern California, 160 miles north of Sacramento. In 2001, its population exceeded 168,000 people, distributed over 3,785 square miles and comprised as follows: white (89%), Hispanic/Latino (5%), Native American (3%), Asian American (2%), and African American (1%). The median age in 2000 was 39, the average family size is 2.98 and the countywide poverty rate exceeds 18% (1997). Redding is the urban center, with a population of 80,000. The remaining areas of the county are very rural in nature, including isolated and mountainous areas. The TLC project will focus on two distinct communities, the City of Redding and the Intermountain area (IA). The IA, in rural eastern Shasta County encompasses an area of 1,000 square miles, with seven small towns ranging in population from 100 to 5,000, and a total population of 10,000. Many residents are low income - 30% of its residents are uninsured, and 35% are under 200% of poverty.

In 2002, 63.7% of adults in Shasta County were overweight, worse than state (54.8%) and national (56.9%) rates. Childhood obesity is at an alarming level and high incidences of cardiovascular disease, (12% of the adult population) diabetes (9%), and conditions related to obesity and lack of physical activity exist (2002). The high numbers of uninsured residents have resulted in untreated chronic health problems.

Lack of transportation, as well as great distances between destinations, provide a challenge to the population, particularly in rural areas. High speeds and narrow rural roads eliminate bicycling and walking on connecting roads (for commuting or recreation) as a safe option.

Local surveys and focus groups indicate that walking is by far the preferred form of physical activity. In the Intermountain area, there are limited options for indoor activities. Safe places to be active are geographically distant (there can be a 90 minute commute to and from school), preventing many youth from being involved in school sports and activities. However, Shasta County offers almost limitless beauty and outdoor recreational assets. Of its 2.46 million acres, 41% are public lands (98% federally owned) primarily devoted to timber and recreation. There are 529 acres of parkland just within Redding's city limits.

The City of Redding has a popular, growing trail system that provides linkages between neighborhoods, schools, the river, parks, and a cutting edge museum complex. The Sacramento River Trail, soon to reach the 10-mile marker, was designated as a National Recreational Trail in 2002. The city will soon adopt a comprehensive 20-year Trail, Park and Open Spaces Plan that will provide for over 229 miles of trails. Public transportation is already provided to some trailheads. Rapidly becoming the centerpiece of the urban community is the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a 300-acre, cultural, scientific, botanical and educational facility, through which the Sacramento River Trail passes. In 2003 the Calatrava Sundial Bridge becomes the third innovative pedestrian bridge and will connect the museum complex with the Arboretum, which is circled by a popular trail.

The TLC partnership will prove to be a great asset to the community by helping partners grow and learn from each other, accomplishing more together than one organization can do alone. Shasta County can become a model county for trails development and health promotion, with trails that link urban and rural communities to each other and to the world. Shasta County Public Health is already focusing on chronic disease and injury prevention, including a physical activity program. Last year, American Trails, moved its headquarters to Redding after hosting the National Trails Symposium here in 2002.

IMAGE has strong commitment from its members to community health improvement. They have developed a strong voice for policy change and more equitable resource distribution to improve health in Eastern Shasta County. This partnership can assist them in identifying, marking, maintaining and publicizing rural trails, as well as gaining access to under-utilized public lands and adjacent large private landowners. They and health professionals on the team can assist American Trails in providing a greater health education and promotion dimension to its programs.

THE PROJECT

This project will establish the Trails for Life! Collaborative consisting of a wide variety of community members, organizations and experts. The four key partners are American Trails, Shasta County Public Health, the City of Redding and IMAGE, each bringing different strengths and areas of expertise to the table. The bond that brings them together is a commitment to increasing levels of physical activity by utilizing, promoting, and expanding upon one of our community's greatest assets: trails. Each has a vested interest in increasing community and decision maker awareness about environments supportive of active lifestyles, influencing community design and planning, making trails more accessible and appealing to the public, and related goals.

The Collaborative will meet monthly to build relationships, address issues, and facilitate reaching the objectives. Much of the work will take place in work groups, via a listserv, and phone communication. Project staff located at American Trails and IMAGE will ensure that goals are met, while in-kind from Public Health, Redding, and other members will support the efforts.

The model developed, implemented, and refined by TLC will then be promoted nationally, along with lessons learned from the rural and urban pilot communities. American Trails' national influence and established network will facilitate the distribution process.

Trail systems offer diverse opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and interests. By improving convenient access to safer, well-maintained trails, the Collaborative will increase trail use and levels of physical activity in the community.

The Collaborative will work towards trail systems and plans that link parks, neighborhoods, schools, worksites and community gathering places. This will be accomplished through educating community leaders, assisting Redding in finalizing and implementing its Trails & Bikeways Strategy, and taking a proactive role in planning and policy development.

TLC will increase trail use by the sedentary public. Improved trailheads and signage will make trails more visible, easier to find, and inviting. Kiosks installed at trailheads will include an activities calendar, maps and trail information. New programs will introduce children and families to trails and encourage community-based walking or activity clubs. An emphasis on mobilizing community groups and after school programs to adopt trails for clean up, maintenance and to address safety issues will develop a sense of ownership in a local trail they will want to take their family and friends to.

To encourage environments supportive of active lifestyles, TLC will develop a PowerPoint presentation to educate community leaders and decision makers about the connection between community design, policy, health and the local economy. Content will include information about connecting trail systems for commuting, as well as recreation, encouraging transportation agencies to include stops near trails, and best practices for active community design. TLC will also work with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to encourage increased safety for pedestrians and bicyclists along the area highways.

TLC will develop a multimedia Trails for Life! Campaign that identifies and promotes the best trails and walking routes in the two target communities. It will stress the benefits of using trails, as well as suggest ways to use them. The American Trails website will provide a clearinghouse of trail and physical activity information and a calendar of events.

Redding currently has a brochure describing local trails, with directions and a map to trailheads, along with tips for getting started on a walking program. A similar brochure will be developed for the Intermountain area. Local media will be utilized to increase public awareness about the importance of active lifestyles and how to incorporate trails and walking into their daily activities.

Each Collaborative member brings resources to help the Collaborative overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Existing physical activity promotion activities through Public Health and IMAGE can be linked to TLC efforts. American Trails brings a national perspective and resources and, along with the City of Redding, brings the trail expertise to the Collaborative. The City of Redding has a financial commitment to expand their trails system, which is already considered a model.

During the first year, grant funds, in the amount of $75,000, will be utilized to hire a project coordinator at American Trails, as well as support a staff person at IMAGE to focus on this project. Key activities will include establishing the Collaborative and structure; garnering community input; developing a strategic plan; identifying key trails on which to focus; developing a presentation to begin educating decision makers; developing the American Trails health website; designing a trails brochure and informational kiosks; and implementing the Trails for Life! Campaign. These funds will be leveraged to secure funding for capital expenditures.

SUSTAINABILITY

The Trails for Life! Collaborative will build a strong, effective, long-term partnership to ensure that projects are sustained and future projects of mutual benefit will be accomplished. The partners and collaborators all have strong organizational histories, grant writing and fund leveraging skills, in-kind and volunteer support, and proven track records of supporting and sustaining projects. The diversity of talents and interests represented greatly broadens the ability to sustain multipurpose funding, policy and systems change, mutual support and community awareness.

American Trails has 37 years experience in bringing together divergent organizations, agencies, and trail users nationwide in effective, successful partnerships. Its ability to generate and mobilize resources as demonstrated by the numbers of participants at its biennial Symposium: a 25 member national planning team, 140 sponsor/exhibitors, 175 volunteers, and over 500 attendees.

SCPH has a long history of promoting healthy active lifestyles in collaboration with schools, community organizations, coalitions, and other health professionals. They utilize proven strategies, including education and media campaigns, physical activity programs targeting all age groups, coalition building, changing organizational practices, and influencing local and state policies.

Redding's long record of successful partnership projects is a testament to a community-oriented planning approach. Every trail within the city is the result of creative collaborations with public agencies and nonprofit groups. Through these efforts, not only have state and federal dollars been leveraged to create outstanding innovative projects but community enthusiasm and civic pride in our public landscape has been fostered.

IMAGE has an excellent record of generating resources, both funding and in-kind, and has demonstrated creative community programming and an effective communications and marketing network unique for such a rural area.

TLC will improve the health of families and communities through increased access to and use of trails. Community members and leaders will have a new awareness of the benefits of active living and outdoor recreation, as well as an understanding of what supports active lifestyles. Random surveys will demonstrate increased use of trails.

Additional long-term impact will include expanded transportation options to incorporate active living into daily activities and routines; and changes in local community design, transportation, and architecture to make it easier and more inviting for people to be physically active. These include developing trailheads on public transportation routes; information kiosks; new trail connections for safe commuting by bicycle and foot; improved bike lane along major highway between Redding and the Intermountain area; improved mapping and promotion of existing trails; and the identification of new trails.

The American Trails website and kiosks will serve as an ongoing resource clearinghouse for physical activity and trails-related topics and the model developed and implemented by TLC will be adopted by communities across the nation to increase physical activity levels through partnership building and trails.

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