A Healthy Historic Walking Path will be established in the City of Albany from State and South Pearl Streets through much of the City’s South End Neighborhoods. The Walking Path will serve to encourage physical activity, attract tourism and add to the neighborhood revitalizations efforts of current grass roots projects underway in the South End. The Path will also serve as an educational resource, a catalyst for economic development and add to the recreational attractions for the City of Albany.
The genesis of the Healthy Historic Walking Path stems from the Sam’s Club Healthier Communities Initiative; a YMCA enabled grass roots health equity project in the City of Albany. Research has shown that African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos suffer more disproportionately from chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other ailments than white non-Hispanic/Latinos. The Y convened a diverse group of community stakeholders to address health equity concerns in Albany’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – Arbor Hill, West Hill and the South End. The goal of the Sam’s Club group was to implement system-wide policy-based health interventions to give residents in these neighborhoods their greatest opportunity at health equity. Changing the environment is an evidenced –based way to get people closer to achieving health equity.
The Sam’s club group noted the rich history of the Albany; specifically the South End neighborhoods and its unique contributions to Albany’s development. Here was an opportunity to create something unique that would serve multiple purposes using existing resources. The opportunity to tie into grass-roots movements of the South End Neighborhood Association, A Village, Inc., Six Blocks Group, Capital South Campus and neighborhood improvements being conducted by Albany Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity were noted as key to establishing the Walking Path. No physical structures needed to be constructed and involvement of neighborhood stakeholders could be used to build momentum and establish the Path.