November 17, 2009
Source: Emory Wheel/November 16, 2009

Emory University's Office of Sustainability Initiatives received an $18,000 grant last week from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to fund a new campaign to encourage walking.

Project "Walk n' Roll" will employ technology such as podcasts, online maps and video to combat health-related and environmental issues, said Director of Sustainability Initiatives, Ciannat Howett.

"The approach we're taking is trying to harness the excitement and energy behind new technologies to get people thinking about one of the oldest forms of exercise there is," Howett said.

The Office of Sustainability Initiatives has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory Predictive Health Initiative, Emory Healthcare and Emory Faculty and Staff Assistance Program to promote a healthy lifestyle and environment.

Most of the funding will support the creation of an online campus map where people can access podcasts of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building tours, information about the ecosystem of Lullwater and location of educational food gardens, Cliff shuttle routes and recycling options. The map, which will be available via computers or handheld devices, is scheduled to launch in April 2010. Videos and sustainablilty-related destinations such as the Green Bean Coffee Cart will also be located on the map, Howett said.

Howett said that the map will encourage people to walk from "point A to point B" by providing information along a route and the number of calories burned.

"I think a lot of people aren't aware that just walking to the administration building and back can be a really great form of exercise," she said.

In addition to the map, the campaign will provide education, outreach, a forum in December and panel in April centered on the benefits of walking. All first-year students will be required to attend a lecture about creating a walkable community and will also be required to calculate their personal carbon footprint. They must then pledge to commit to sustainable behaviors.

The campaign will address obesity, walkable design, alternative transportation, increased physical activity and improved air quality and mental health, according to a document outlining the program.

Howett said that Emory's model can be replicated for any campus-like setting.

"We think we're going to set up a walking program that will become a model that hopefully other places will take up," she said.

Contact Kate Borger, Emory Wheel reporter

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