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Grantee Blog 2020

Moving Forward with River Trail Goals

The interesting thing about multi-year grants is that you never exactly know how things will play out. Yes, you have an idea of what you’d like to do and steps you can take to achieve it, but there are inevitably surprises you can’t account for which impact your plans. Like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our organization split our Year 1 and Year 2 activities so we would accomplish our Healthy Living goal the first year and our Active Living goal the second year. This worked in our favor last year because our Healthy Living goal—creating an interactive food and transit map Elizabeth residents could use to find food outlets—could be completely done online. And we’re happy to say that we were able to get it created!

Our Active Living goal, however,  is a different story. It involves working with the City to design and install signs on the Elizabeth River Trail. This 1.5-mile trail connects the  destinations like City Hall, Elizabeth High School, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, and food outlets (ex. Mobile Markets at Mravlag Manor), making it a great resource for residents who don’t have reliable access to transportation. Unfortunately, we’ve received feedback from our community that they aren’t familiar with the trail or where it leads to. Which is where our grant project comes in.

Our goal this year is to design, develop, and install directional signs along the trail that list locations accessible if they continue along it. The signs would also have QR codes with exercise videos embeded in them to encourage residents to use the trail for fitness.

We’re not sure how much of this goal we can accomplish given the current state of the pandemic, but we’ve created a game plan that we’ve started working on. We’re reaching out to our contact in the City so we can get their help connecting with various people/departments in the City. We’re also determining what standing exercises can be used for the exercise videos embeded in the signs so we can create the videos this winter/early spring.

When the weather warms up and isn’t quite so snowy/icy, we’ll be able to take a preliminary walk on the trail to determine how many signs are needed, potential placements for them, and what locations should be listed on them. We’re hoping we’ll have City permits for the project later this year when the City can focus on more than COVID related actions/events. Because of the timing for this project we’re not sure if the signs will be able to be installed during this grant period, but we’re aiming to have them ordered if at all possible.

As we did last year, we’ll keep you posted on our progress so you can learn from our experiences. Wish us luck!

About the Grantee

The Gateway Family YMCA

The Gateway Family YMCA (TGFY) is a community-based organization rooted in Christian principles and committed to building healthy lives through programs that strengthen minds, bodies and spirits for people of all ages, religions and cultures. The leader of the Shaping Elizabeth coalition, TGFY is committed towards supporting the health, nutrition and physical activity of all Elizabeth residents.