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Healthy Communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands: An Initiative by the University of the Virgin Islands Walkability Institute

Image of the University of the Virgin Islands Medical Research and Training Center

The University of the Virgin Islands recently established a partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) to continue the goals of the USVI Walkability Institute with the inclusion of the Institute under its research network. NACDD’s mission is to “improve the health of the public by strengthening state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control for states and at the national level,” said Karma Harris, public health consultant and Walkability Lead with NACDD. Harris highlighted the excitement in creating new partnerships in the territory to develop new and unified action plans focused on a healthy, movable and walkable built environment with additional walkability awareness projects involving youth.  

The USVI Walkability Institute began as a Call to Action from the 2016 Availability of Street-level Supports for Walking- U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI EPI-Aid study) and the 2017 USVI Walkability Institute workshop which was a collaborative effort of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, and The Taskforce for Global Health.  

“By working together, we will create new momentum towards the common objective of creating healthy communities that encourage physical activity and support the overall well-being of the territory,” noted Interim Director for the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center for Excellence, Dr. Noreen Michael.  

The USVI Walkability Institute’s mission is to promote healthy community design and walkability in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As part of this mission, the application of best practices in healthy community design to support physically active lifestyles and overall well-being throughout the territory is enforced. Making this a priority during recovery and beyond provides benefits to public health, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience.  

The University of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Exploratory Research Center for Excellence provides opportunities for a concerted focus on complex variables as well as the unique intersections of island history, context, culture, demographics, socioeconomic status, and other factors that might contribute to health disparities within the islands.  

For more information on the University of the Virgin Islands Walkability Institute, please visit: Achieving Walkability in the USVI | 2017usviwiworkshop (usviwalkabilityinstitute.com) 

For more information about NACDD, please visit: www.chronicdisease.org