Hawthorne Borough’s Mayors Wellness Committee is one of our 2022-2023 Incentive Drawing recipients. Each year winners receive funding to spend on health and wellness programming in their community. Recipients have used the funds to support a variety of programs such as free exercise classes, purchasing bike helmets, or providing health screenings. Hawthorne used the funds to promote safe walking, by providing safety vests for residents and scheduling safe, community walks. We reached out to Mayor Lane who has been instrumental in improving health and wellness in his community. Learn more below:
What inspired Hawthorne’s MWC to use the incentive funds for a safe walking program?
Promoting walking has been a priority for us. Unfortunately, our community had three pedestrian fatalities in recent years. Many of our residents walk to a local park for exercise. We decided to focus on the safety of our adult walkers. Our Traffic Bureau was instrumental in ordering the 150 vests. The success of this program has encouraged us to plan a similar initiative in the fall if funding permits.
How does your MWC’s focus on pedestrian safety align with your overall goals for your MWC?
Walking contributes not only to physical fitness, but also mental well-being. As we emerged from the challenges of the COVID pandemic, we found many people turned to walking to keep their mind and body occupied with healthy thoughts. To ensure this practice continues, we are dedicated to ensuring pedestrian safety for both mental and physical health. By focusing on pedestrian safety, we aim to create a safe and secure environment that encourages residents to walk without any concerns.
How did you distribute the vests?
In coordination with Lt. Mark Michalski and the Traffic Bureau, we organized a “Vest Give-Away” event for our adult walkers on a first-come, first-served basis. To spread the word about the event, we utilized various communication channels. Nixle alerts were sent out, I personally included a promotion in my weekly letter, and flyers were distributed as well. The give-away took place on our Borough’s Cel-Earth-Bration for Earth Day and the opening of the baseball/softball season for our youth. To ensure a successful event, we provided small bottles of water and granola bars, all labeled with “Mayors Wellness Campaign” stickers. Additionally, we had a wide range of literature available on health, wellness, and mental well-being. The response from our adult walkers was incredibly positive, and we distributed all the vests in 90 minutes.
Have you held other walking based events?
In May we held a Wellness Walk at the high school track. Before walking, the participants were led by a fitness instructor to warm up. We partnered with several organizations including the Stigma Free Committee, Domestic Violence Response Team, HPS Diversity Alliance, the Madison Holleran Foundation, Holy Name Medical Center, Retro Fitness, Hawthorne High School, and several businesses. It was a great opportunity for our residents to learn about the support and services each organization provides as well as the local businesses that uplift wellness in our community.
In addition to the safety vests, are there any other measures or initiatives being implemented or in the works to improve pedestrian safety?
In our efforts to enhance pedestrian safety, we pursued a Traffic AARP grant in partnership with Sgt. DeLallo from our Traffic Bureau. We intended on using this funding for nine push to walk signs throughout Hawthorne. Unfortunately, our grant application was not successful this time, but we remain determined to reapply next year.
Even prior to applying for the grant, we have been actively communicating and collaborating with Glen Rock and Ridgewood to address pedestrian safety concerns. Lowering the speed limits on certain streets to 25 mph is currently a priority we are working towards. We have also taken steps to promote alternative modes of transportation by installing bike racks near the library.
In collaboration with the Neighborhood Preservation Program Stakeholders, we developed walking maps that highlight different areas of our town. These maps aim to provide residents with the option of walking to various destinations instead of driving. For instance, individuals can enjoy parks along the way while walking to a restaurant for dinner.
Mayors Wellness Campaign committees can also learn more about MWC programming ideas by utilizing our MWC Handbook.