Keep Durham Beautiful, Partnership for a Healthy Durham team up to clean up

Aug. 07, 2013 @ 06:59 PM

Tasteful stick figures of walking people and distance markings in quarter-mile increments now appear in permanent yellow paint on two Durham sidewalk loops. Work began this past Tuesday on Durham’s second Healthy Mile Trail, which starts and ends at the corner of N. Driver and Taylor streets near Holton Career and Resource Center.

A Healthy Mile Trail is a one-mile marked loop on Durham neighborhood sidewalks that will help residents stay healthy by making it easier to get physical activity. You might wonder, though, how marking a walking trail helps to beautify Durham? 

Keep Durham Beautiful teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthy Durham to establish the Healthy Mile Trails because these trails encourage neighbors to get out, walk and build community on their streets. Neighbors work together to clean up debris and trim back overgrown plants from the sidewalks. Then trail users help to keep them clean so that they stay pleasant and safe. Keep Durham Beautiful believes that the more people walk on their streets and interact with neighbors, the more they will want to pick up litter and plant beautiful things.

The first step to establishing a trail involves engaging community neighbors and partners who want to work together on the trail. This group identifies a one-mile loop that has sidewalks and can be traversed safely. Once the route is approved by the neighborhood and City of Durham, the group walks the route to appraise its conditions. They note problems such as uneven sidewalks or overhanging branches that the city and volunteers can address to make the route safer.  In the case of the Holton Healthy Mile Trail, neighbors and partners have begun cleaning up the sidewalks and have completed the stenciling to measure and mark the route.

Work on the Holton trail, led by the Partnership for a Healthy Durham, was shared by many Keep Durham Beautiful volunteers and partners, including Durham Parks and Recreation’s Teen Summer Camp program at Holton, City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, and the East Durham Children’s Initiative.

There is still more cleanup work to be done on this trail. Keep Durham Beautiful supplies the volunteers with gloves, tools, vests and trash bags to help get the job done. The Partnership for a Healthy Durham plans to work with the Northeast Central Durham community to set a date for an inaugural walk and kickoff celebration when the trail is ready.

The Partnership for a Healthy Durham, a community coalition of local organizations and community members, staffed by the Durham County Department of Public Health, shares the goal of collaboratively improving the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of Durham's residents. The group says that the trails have been popular.

The Partnership for a Healthy Durham, along with the Division of Health Education, plans to establish two more “Healthy Mile Trails” in Durham neighborhoods over the next year. The first established Healthy Mile trail begins at Lincoln Community Health Center at the intersection of Massey Avenue and Merrick Street. You may find a map of this route at www.HealthyDurham.org or call 919-560-7833 for details.

Tania Dautlick is executive director of Keep Durham Beautiful Inc.