Institute hopes to make Columbus more ‘livable’

Even with the bevy of walking and biking trails available in Columbus, local health leaders say there are still ways to make the city a healthier place.

That’s why representatives from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute are coming to Columbus this week to offer up new ideas for ways to design the city to promote overall health and wellness.

Based out of Washington, the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute is an organization that travels to more than 80 North American communities each year to give presentations and offer advice on ways to create better built environments.

“Every conversation I have had with them has been really inspiring,” said Laura Garrett, community initiatives lead for Reach Healthy Communities. “They’ve seen so much, so they can just look around and pull ideas. They’re a wealth of knowledge.”

When they visit Columbus on Wednesday and Thursday, much of their time will be spent with local students — particularly those in the Parkside Elementary and Northside Middle School area — who will learn about the importance of physical activity and the safest ways to walk or ride bikes in the community.

On Wednesday, students from Parkside will participate in a group walk with the Walkable representatives to celebrate Walk to School Day.

Then, a group of 20 third-grade students from Parkside also will go on a walk-about around the school to learn how the building is designed to encourage physical activity.

“We’ll show them how to be engineers for the day,” Garrett said.

Three public workshops will be free and open to the public during the Walkable and Livable Communities visit, including:

A presentation Wednesday on how to design the community for the aging population.

A “Safe Routes to School” workshop Wednesday where residents can offer opinions on ways to make the Parkside and Northside areas safer for pedestrians and bikers.

A Blue Zones conversation Thursday about natural movements.

Walkable and Livable communities also will create a photo vision for one area of the city, where they will take a “before” picture and create a possible “after” shot based on the suggestions they have to improve the city.

The area where the photo vision will be focused has not been decided yet, Garrett said.

The Walkable and Livable Communities visit is funded through Reach Healthy Communities’ Plan4Health grant.

If you go

Aging presentation

  • When: 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St., Columbus
  • What: Walkable and Livable Communities will discuss the benefits of building a community that allows residents to age well in place

“Safe Routes to School” workshop

  • 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Northside Middle School cafeteria, 1400 27th St., Columbus
  • What: Residents in the Parkside Elementary and Northside Middle School areas can provide input about walking and biking safety concerns

Blue Zones conversation

  • When: 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday
  • Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus
  • What: The concept of natural movements will be discussed
  • Registration is required. Contact Laura Garrett at for registration information

For more information on the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute visit, go to or

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.