Lead Project Director for the Healthy Living Program at Volunteers for Youth, Alyson Short, congratulates Jody Reiss upon her graduation from The Walking College.
On the evening of November 30, the 2017 class of the Walking College, an interactive, online educational program for walkable community advocates, walked across a virtual stage to receive their diplomas from America Walks. Among those graduating was Jody Reiss, Healthy Living Program Project Director at Rogers County Volunteers for Youth.
Having spent the last six months learning from experienced walkable community campaigners about leadership, coalition-building, effective communication, walkable community design, transportation and land-use policy, and campaign planning, Reiss will now make the transition from student to practitioner. And, for the first time in the three-year history of the Walking College there was a 100% graduation rate (the others were 92% and 96%), as each of the 24 Fellows completed all of the requirements, including developing a long-term Walking Action Plan (WAP) to guide their future work.
Reiss and the 23 other local leaders were selected to receive Fellowships for the 2017 Walking College based on their experiences and passion for the walking movement. The new Fellows were Hispanic/Latino, Black/African-American, mixed-race, and White; they had backgrounds in advocacy, planning, transportation, public health, health care, education, and business; and they came from urban, suburban, and rural communities in 20 different states. This year’s program also welcomed our first Canada-resident Fellow (from Victoria, BC), and Reiss was the first to be chosen for this honor from Oklahoma.
From May until September, Reiss watched webinars and TED talks, studied research and opinion articles, explored fact sheets and toolkits, completed community assignments, and participated in video-conferenced discussion forums. After completing the instructional portion of the course, she attended the 2017 National Walking Summit in St. Paul where she came together with their Mentors for the Walking College Work Day, and participated in Summit activities that included mobile workshops, intensive trainings, interactive break-out sessions, and plenary presentations. And, in October, after several months of drafting and redrafting, she finalized and submitted her Walking Action Plans (WAP).
“I believe that this opportunity has come at just the right time. The Claremore Collective is a group of young professionals working to provide opportunities for growth in the community and I have been active in the group since its inception. The topics of my training program aligned closely with the things our Claremore Collective survey revealed…community members want walkability, green spaces and active transportation,” added Reiss.
See More: www.americawalks.org/news
About The Walking College: The Walking College is supported with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association. Mentoring will be provided by national leaders in the field, including representatives of WalkBoston, the Walkable and Livable Communities (WALC) Institute, Urban Health Partnerships, and MIG Inc. More info. at www.americawalks.org/walkingcollege.
About America Walks: America Walks is the only national organization devoted exclusively to making America a great place to walk. America Walks consists of a network of more than 700 partner and allied organizations, working to increase walking and create more safe, accessible and inclusive places to walk. Programs include on-line technical assistance, community-based workshops, convenings such as the National Walking Summit, federal advocacy initiatives, and increasing financial resources for local action. America Walks also maintains the Every Body Walk! Collaborative, a national partnership focused on increasing the visibility of walking and cultivating consumer demand for more walkable places. More info. at www.americawalks.org.
The mission at Volunteers for Youth is to positively impact the lives of our youth with an overall vision that Rogers County youth succeed. We offer site-based mentoring programs, an after-school program for 6th-8th graders, a classroom setting for students on long-term suspensions, and a program for high-risk juveniles or first offenders. Healthy Community Partnership works with the Rogers County Coalition to help improve the quality of life for Rogers County residents, by reducing prescription drug abuse, promoting smoke free environments, encouraging health and wellness through proper nutrition and increased physical activity.