Washington, DC (January 27, 2014) – The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) is pleased to announce Community Connectivity Forums for residents of Bladensburg, Langley Park, and Suitland to discuss improving access to recreational opportunities for children and families. These are being held in collaboration with the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation and the Prince George’s County Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative with support from technical experts Wildflower Consulting and GP Red.  This collaboration aims to create safe access to recreational opportunities, concentrating on a ½-1½ mile radius around targeted community centers so that children, youth, and families can confidently walk or bicycle to these locations. This project is based on the Safe Routes to Play concept, which is a child-centered planning process which helps communities assess connectivity between neighborhoods and parks, playgrounds, trails, and natural areas for children and families, focusing on methods of active transportation, such as walking or biking.

Each forum will provide community residents the opportunity to discuss any obstacles they face in walking or biking in their neighborhood. Additionally, participating youth will present their findings from PhotoVoice, a photo-documentation process, and UMAP, a mapping process, to demonstrate the barriers they face. Forums will be held in both English and Spanish, and childcare and refreshments will be provided.

One forum will be held in each community:

Suitland – Tuesday, January 28, 6:30-8:30PM, Suitland Community Center, 5600 Regency Lane

Bladensburg – Wednesday, January 29, 6:30-8:30PM, Bladensburg Community Center, 4500 57th Avenue

Langley Park – Thursday, January 30, 6:30-8:30PM, Langley Park Community Center, 1500 Merrimac Drive

Results from these forums will be incorporated into a Blueprint addressing access to recreational opportunities and pedestrian health and safety. This blueprint will include findings from the three communities and an action plan for each, providing solutions to access issues surrounding recreational opportunities.

Funded by IPHI through a Community Transformation Grant (CTG) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these community forums are one element of a larger program that endeavors to improve health and quality of life for communities Prince George’s County. In addition to improving safety and increasing access to recreational opportunities, IPHI also funds strategies that increase access to and affordability of healthy foods for low-income families and improve delivery of clinical preventive services through the use of community health workers.

To become involved with Safe Access to Recreational Opportunities, please contact Catherine Diamante at cdiamante@institutephi.org.