Sebastopol is joining other Sonoma County cities and organizations launch the “iWalk Sonoma,” the first phase of Health Action — A 2020 vision for Sonoma County, which aims to make the county the healthiest in California by 2020. The May 16 kickoff will feature events all across the county to promote walking as an easy way to promote health. Health Action, created by the Board of Supervisors in 2007 as a coalition of health care providers, the County Health Services and others , notes:

“For many people in Sonoma County, the basic conditions that support health and well-being seem to be out of reach. Many families struggle to make ends meet and over 25% of our youth do not graduate from high school on time, thus reducing their chances of becoming productive and healthy adults. Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating contribute to increasing levels of obesity and overweight in our community, yet many residents lack access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Other unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco use and substance abuse, and lack of access to health care services further contribute to preventable illness and death in our community each year.”  —Health Action’s Action Plan (2009-2012)

The projects’ iWalk Sonoma website will be up by May 1 and will help people to find community walking groups or to start their own, as well as many other walking resources.

Walking through Graton, Nov 29, 2008

Walking through Graton, Nov 29, 2008

Sebastopol Mayor Sarah Glade Gurney pointed to the successful Sebastopol Walks program started in 2007 as a great example of a local walking program. The monthly walks, inspired by Richard Nichols’ book, Sebastopol Walks, have been very popular. Over 30 people showed up for the the March walk from Santa Rosa (via Sonoma Co. Transit) to Sebastopol on the Joe Rodota Trail.

Sebastopol Safe Routes to School will be getting in on the act as well as we encourage “walking school buses” and other programs.

I am the acting Sebastopol point person in my various roles with Bike & Walk Sebastopol, Safe Routes and the Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. I look forward to helping get more people out and on the paths, trails  and sidewalks of Sonoma County.