Complete Streets Program Announced

News from Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, Health, Posted on Thu, 06/25/2009 - 3:43pm

On April 14, 2009 - Governor David A. Paterson announced Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany and Cattaraugus County’s Southern Tier Wellness Partnership is one of 12 community organizations to share in $890,000 in funding over the next five years to reduce preventable causes of cardiovascular disease by creating and promoting new or expanded community-level, sustainable opportunities for residents to be more physically active or to eat more healthy foods.

"We must take steps to help create a healthier New York, and access to healthy fruits and vegetables is an important step toward that goal. Equally important is for people to be active," said Governor Paterson. "This state is facing an obesity epidemic, which drives up health care costs and lowers quality of life. This is critical funding that goes directly into neighborhoods to help turn around the problem."

"Research clearly shows that physically active people have better health than those who are sedentary," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "About 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity over the course of a week can reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, depression, and some cancers."

Applications for funding from the state's Healthy Heart Program were sought from municipalities and community organizations that proposed innovative projects in largely urban areas that would undertake initiatives such as:

  • Establishing and maintaining grocery stores in low income neighborhoods;

  • Establishing and expanding community gardens;

  • Increasing the availability and consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk in the community;

  • Adopting "complete streets" policies to make it easier for people to walk, roll and bicycle; and

  • Creating pedestrian-friendly walking routes in low-income neighborhoods.

Cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure and stroke. More than 58,700 New Yorkers died of cardiovascular disease in 2007, representing 40 percent of all deaths in New York.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties will work with 10 communities over the five year grant period to establish "complete streets" policies around schools, low-income housing and housing for the elderly. "Complete streets" are designed to be safe and accessible for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users and transit users. The Southern Tier Wellness Partnership will focus on Gowanda in Cattaraugus County and Wellsville in Allegany County in year one of the grant period.

Physical inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, obesity, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Studies show that changing the environment helps people change their health behaviors.

"When neighborhoods are walkable and have parks, people are more physically active," Commissioner Daines said, "and when grocery stores stock fresh fruits and vegetables, shoppers will choose them."

Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and lower their risk of heart disease and stroke. Behavioral changes can also reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.

For more information on the Complete Streets Program in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties please visit www.SoutherntierWellnessPartnership.org

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