Map My Walk – A Guide to Accessible Walking Sites in Middlesex County
The Raritan Valley YMCA is proud to represent the New Healthy Communities Network and our funder, the NJ Division of Disability Services, as we continue our grant work in researching and providing information to fitness providers and groups that serve the physically disabled. Our goal is to provide assessments and resources to these groups that enable them to improve their recreation facilities, address accessibility and increase the delivery of healthy foods.
This challenged population experiences everyday obstacles to walking, swimming, and exercising due to facility closures, sidewalk safety issues, parking, and unkempt outdoor parks and recreation facilities. The pandemic has closed most senior centers and food service sites serving the disabled. We must now explore how to assure healthy foods in the home.
Building on our momentum from researching the challenges of walking in neighborhood streets and parks, we are now working on creating a map of accessible walking sites in Middlesex County. Our research revealed sidewalk decay, lack of ramps, seating and, inaccessible bathrooms.
The past several months, due to COVID-19, has seen the public increase their time outdoors. Thus there is an increased need for outdoor accessible fitness and wellness activities for those with physical disabilities. The elderly and physically disabled have been even more confined with senior centers and recreation programs closed.
As we have all been faced with challenges and changes, to administering our grants, we have found a meaningful way to alter our work. We are now working on creating a map of accessible walking sites. In doing so we are evaluating the following:
Parking – Handicap accessible spaces or proximity to paths
Trail and sidewalk safety – lighting, surface stability, even pavement, trip hazards
Additional accommodations – handrails, ramps, benches, directional signs, message boards
Distance – trail markers, maps
Points of Interest or function – parks, sights or stores
The Raritan Valley YMCA is proud to support this work and value our partnerships in doing so. As we strive to identify and share exceptional standards that accommodate the physically disabled and those with limited mobility, especially seniors, we look forward to learning, sharing, and ADAPTING, together!
About the Grantee
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. To learn more about the Raritan Valley YMCA programs, health and wellness, visit www.raritanvalleyymca.org or call 732-257-4114. The Y is located at 144 Tices Lane in East Brunswick and serves 13 municipalities in Middlesex County.