Story by Katie Bisaro
Plans are coming together in collaboration between the Orange County Department of Health and St. Anthony Community Hospital to create a walking route through the Village of Warwick to promote healthy lifestyles.
At the recent Village of Warwick Board of Trustees meeting, held on Mon., Apr. 16, Danielle Moser, the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Orange County Department of Health (DOH), spoke to the Village Board about the progress of the “Warwick Walks” program. She was joined by Barbara Demundo, System Director of Bon Secours Charity Health System Community Outreach at St. Anthony Community Hospital.
Moser pointed out that “Warwick Walks” is part of the Complete Streets initiative that promotes streets that have safe and usable access for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike. She commented that Warwick is a very walkable community already.
Moser reported that the DOH’s reason for being involved includes prevention of chronic disease. A walkable community provides the opportunity and tendency to walk more.
“It’s the simplest exercise. You don’t need a lot of equipment, just need a good pair of shoes and a good place to walk,” Moser said.
Demundo explained that St. Anthony Community Hospital is the third area hospital to partner with a municipality and the DOH to create walking programs. Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis has 50 to 75 regular participants who walk in the downtown area. Additionally, Good Samaritan Hospital, in Rockland County, has a walking loop in downtown Suffern, NY.
Several Loops, Distances Mapped Out
Under the premise that those committed to regular walks do better with marked routes, Moser and Demundo have been working on different routes and options in the Village, all beginning and ending at the hospital on the corner of Maple Ave. and Grand St. The walking loops that have been mapped out will include signage along the way that denotes the route and distances covered.
Beginning at the hospital, there is a 1.5-mile loop that proceeds down to Main St. through the heart of the Village and continuing on to Oakland Ave. From Oakland Ave., walkers go left onto Linden Pl., left onto Clinton Ave. and then left again onto South St. South St. is then taken back up to Main St. for the return to the hospital.
Shorter routes have also been identified. All begin at the hospital and proceed up Main St. to Oakland Ave. By turning left onto Third St. from Oakland Ave. and connecting to South St. to get back to the hospital, a walker would cover 1.15 miles. Turning left onto Second St. to South St. and back to the hospital is one mile. And finally, one can turn onto First St., proceed to South St. and back to the hospital for a 0.8 mile walk. There is also a loop that goes from the hospital along Grand St. to the senior housing at Liberty Greens.
The variety of walking distances allow those of all fitness levels to find the one that works for their health goals. Physical therapists from the hospital will utilize the loops for their patient groups.
According to Demundo, hospitals in New York are charged by the New York State DOH to address the health of their communities through prevention of chronic disease under which obesity falls.
“Walkable communities are one of the evidence-based practices that hospitals embrace,” Demundo stated.
Village resident Mary Collura has created a design that is being considered for all signage and materials identifying the program and routes. The Orange County DOH will help subsidize the cost of signage. A meeting has been scheduled with the Architecture Review Board for approval. Rack cards are also being created to be placed at the hospital and in downtown businesses to help promote the walking loops.
There will be a kick-off event held on Wed., May 30, at 10 a.m. at the hospital to celebrate the partnership and encourage the community to participate.