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Vanessa Garrison didn’t set out to build a health movement. Growing up in Seattle’s Central District, a historically black neighborhood, Garrison just wanted her household and her community to be healthy.

“It was a challenge for me to develop solutions that work for the women I love,” Garrison said.

Those solutions, however, did set off a movement: GirlTrek, a community-based walking movement that has reached 250,000 black women and girls across the country. Garrison co-founded GirlTrek and serves as its chief operating officer.

> Garrison will tell her story at the Ann Niles Active Transportation Lecture Oct. 19 at Portland State University. Reserve a space if you plan to attend.

“Seattle is one of the most active cities in the country, but my household was completely inactive,” Garrison said. “All the women in my family were really experiencing health challenges due to chronic disease.”

Those problems ran deeper than simply inactivity. Obesity and inactivity often have roots in concerns about safety and other community issues built on historical trauma and systemic racism. A fitness-only approach, Garrison reasoned, would fail to overcome these powerful forces.

With friend Morgan Dixon, who would become her GirlTrek co-...

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The 2013 NITC dissertation fellowships have been awarded, and Gail Meakins, of the University of Utah, has been selected for a $7,500 NITC fellowship to support her dissertation research.

Meakins's Ph.D. program of study combines her two fields of interest by studying the connection between the built environment and public health.

A former athletic director, Meakins made a major career change in 2008 to go back to school and study Urban Planning.

"My lifelong passion for, and interest in, physical activity and sport began at a very early age," she said. Always a competitive swimmer and runner, she became intrigued with city design over time.

After earning her Bachelor's and Master's of Arts in Physical Education from the University of California, Berkeley in the mid-1970's, Meakins worked for over 20 years in physical education and health at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level.

"Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, and developed a strong interest in both urban design and architecture," Meakins said. In the course of her travels, she couldn't help but notice wide differences between neighborhoods, in terms of the availability of active travel modes.

Her research focuses on the...

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On January 28th, OTREC co-hosted a brown bag seminar on The Impacts and Opportunities for Building Healthy, Equitable Communities.† Shireen Malekafzali, PolicyLink, was the guest speaker of the seminar. She discussed the impacts of transportation on health, the challenges with existing policy,and the opportunities for influencing new policy with transportation authorization on the federal agenda.††Some of the recommendations for policy changes†that better consider the†impact of health equity include prioritizing and encouraging investments in public transprtation, pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, and transit-oriented development.† The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Transportation Reform in America, a publication produced by PolicyLink and Prevention Instituted further explores the link between transportation, health and equity.† The seminar was well-attended, with a standing room only crowd of folks that†represented public, private, non-profit, and university partners in both health and transportation fields. The seminar followed on the heels of the on the recent publication of the book, Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy: Recommendations and...

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