As part of a three-year effort to increase active living opportunities, the Mass in Motion Wellness Leadership teams in Palmer and West Springfield have secured funding from the Massachusetts Council on Aging to create walking maps for their downtown areas.
The walking maps are targeted toward older residents, in an effort to address health challenges common among this population in Palmer and West Springfield. Both municipalities have higher-than-average rates of Alzheimer’s disease and osteoarthritis/rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoporosis and hip fractures are also above average in these communities. Regular exercise can help older adults remain active, more physically fit, and better able to prevent and reduce the effects of these health conditions.
The walking maps are the product of several focus group sessions with seniors and fieldwork to identify safe, interesting, and utilitarian routes. Three maps were created for each municipality, all focused on the commercial areas of town where residents may walk to complete errands rather than take a car. Walking routes, which range from .5 to 2.0 miles, connect residential areas to local services such as post offices, pharmacies, libraries, restaurants, parks, and grocery stores. Maps were created for the villages of Bondsville, Depot Village, and Three Rivers in Palmer and for the Amostown, Merrick, and Mittineague sections of West Springfield. These maps are available for distribution at the local libraries, town halls, and Councils on Aging. Digital versions will be posted on the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s website at www.pvpc.org and on both municipal websites at www.townofwestspringfield.org and www.townofpalmer.com.
This work was coordinated by staff from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and was undertaken in tandem with ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being of residents in both communities. Mass in Motion works to promote opportunities for healthy eating and active living in the places people live, learn, work, and play. Mass in Motion is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
For more information on Mass in Motion projects in the region, contact Catherine Ratté at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission at (413) 781-6045 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In West Springfield, contact Jeanne Galloway at (413) 263-3206 or email@example.com. In Palmer, contact Health Agent Joshua Mathieu at (413) 283-2606 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on local initiatives, please contact individual municipal health departments.