The future of Revere could be in the shoes.
Walking shoes, that is.
A group of residents around the Whelan School, City officials and an initiative by RevereCARES have combined efforts to launch the new Urban Trail at a celebration this Saturday, October 1, at the Whelan Field from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Urban Trail kicked off as part of the RevereCARES Food and Fitness program, and is now part of the Revere On the Move program. It is one part of a three-pronged approach to tackling what is believed to be an obesity problem within the community.
The trail is basically made up of a sidewalk pedestrian route that starts at the Whelan School, goes up Newhall Street, west on Malden Street, down Washington Avenue and then back to the Whelan on Sargent Street.
The 1.8-mile loop has now been marked with route/mileage signs, and a new trailhead sign will be unveiled at the Whelan.
The idea is to use existing pathways in urban areas as marked walking trails, promoting the idea of walking close to home and also making those pathways eligible for government funds to upgrade them.
The nationwide initiative – spurred by a federal grant – is being launched all over the country, but Revere is particularly ahead of the curve, organizers said.
“This is happening nationwide to promote more active lifestyles,” said RevereCARES coordinator Sylvia Chiang. “We are very proud Revere is jumping ahead of everyone to take control of the health in the community. It’s not everywhere that this is happening…It’s amazing how this community comes together. It does not happen everywhere and gives us so much potential to do so much more. It’s such an asset.”
City Grant Writer Cate Blackford also indicated that Revere is ahead of the game.
“Revere is definitely on the cutting edge,” she said.
One reason that the Urban Trail has taken off so quickly in the Whelan area is that the Whelan School community has embraced the idea wholeheartedly through its Walk to School Wednesdays.
That program asks children and their parents to walk to the neighborhood school on designated Wednesdays using the Urban Trail if possible. That initiative has spurred more families to walk more often and has also reduced traffic at the school dramatically.
Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President Julie DiMauro-Doucette has been leading that effort, and she said they are getting a tremendous positive response about the Urban Trail program.
“You see a lot more people out on the trail at all times,” she said. “We’re now seeing people walk their kids to school even when it’s not an official walk to school day and then – once they drop off their kids – they continue walking the trail loop for exercise…It really gives people more initiative to get out and exercise without having to join a health club or drive somewhere else for exercise. It’s easy and it’s in the community.”
Meanwhile, she also said it has brought neighbors together, those whose lives revolve around the school and those who live on the trail but don’t have any involvement in the schools.
“I was even able to have an adult conversation with another parent on the way to the school, a parent that I’ve seen around but never talked to,” said DiMauro-Doucette. “This neighborhood has changed considerably and that’s fine, but I’ve not been able to see and meet the people who now live in the old houses here where I grew up. I have been able to meet them on this trail and I wouldn’t have been able to do that otherwise. It is actually an opportunity to bring people together.”
She added that she believes the initiative has helped further change people’s views on healthy living.
“I see people of all ages out riding bikes on the trail in the morning and during the afternoon,” she said. “That’s really a change from 10 years ago.”
Chiang said the goal is to connect the entire city with a series of walking trails in all of the various neighborhoods.
“Our hope is eventually we’ll build a network of walking trails all over the city, hopefully in every neighborhood, maybe having all of them connected and maybe connecting the Beach too,” she said. “That is the hope for this as we grow it.”
Chiang said that the celebration on Saturday will include giveaways, free food, health screenings, fun games, a raffle, ‘Revere On the Move’ T-Shirts and an official premiere walk of the Urban Trail.
There will also be a vendor from the Revere Beach Farmer’s Market at the event selling fresh vegetables and fruits.
For more information on the overall initiative, go online to Facebook.com/Revereonthemove.