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A University, Community Coalition, and Town Partnership to Promote Walking

Griffin, Sarah F. MPH, PhD; Williams, Joel E. MPH, PhD; Hickman, Powell BS; Kirchner, Amber BS; Spitler, Hugh PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: July/August 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - p 358–362
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318221471c
Original Article

Less than half of all US adults report meeting physical activity recommendations of 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity on at least 5 days per week. Thus, community-wide ecological initiatives are needed to create environments that support incorporating physical activity into residents' daily lives. In this article we describe an ongoing collaborative service-learning partnership between Clemson University, a community coalition, and a neighboring small rural town to address local social and physical environment supports for walking. Years 1 to 3 of this collaborative initiative were evaluated using a mixed-method approach to assess physical environment changes, social environment changes, community perceptions of support for walking, community perceptions of collaborating with university students, and students' skill development. Results revealed several key environmental changes such as mapping and marking 3 walking trails in the community, development of broad marketing efforts linked to the trails that promote community health and heritage, and annual community events to promote walking and the newly developed walking trails. Interview data with community leaders identified several key themes critical to facilitating and enhancing our university and community collaboration. Lastly, students developed skills in developing partnerships, mapping, advocacy, event planning, critical reflection, and qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. Through this process community members and students learn evidence-based public health skills for using data and planning frameworks to guide local initiatives, engage community members in decision making, and conducting evaluations.

This article describes an ongoing collaborative service-learning partnership between Clemson University, a community coalition, and a neighboring small rural town to address local social and physical environment supports for walking.

Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health Education and Human Development, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Drs Griffin and Williams); Pendleton Pride in Motion, Pendleton, South Carolina (Hickman); Charleston, South Carolina (Kirchner); and Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health Education and Human Development, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Dr Spitler).

Correspondence: Sarah F. Griffin, MPH, PhD, 507 Edwards Hall, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health Education and Human Development, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634 (sgriffi@clemson.edu).

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