BRIDGEWATER, NJ - America Walks, a national advocacy organization working to empower communities to create safe, accessible, and enjoyable places to walk and move, has awarded a Walking College Fellowship to Jon Dugan, a Somerville resident who is the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Manager of RideWise Inc.

The fellowship will enable Dugan and other advocates from around the country to participate in a training program designed to strengthen local efforts to make communities more walkable and livable.  

RideWise is a non-profit organization that promotes efficient and sustainable travel options including public transit, ride sharing, biking, and walking. The agency, based in Bridgewater, partners with businesses, municipalities, schools, communities, and nonprofit agencies throughout Somerset County to address a variety of mobility issues.  More at www.ridewise.org
 

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"We are thrilled to welcome Jon  as a member of the Walking College," said Emilie Bahr, Walking College manager with America Walks, "This year’s application process was our most competitive to date, with more than 140 applicants vying for just 25 slots. The fellows selected this year represent a diversity of experiences and backgrounds and Jon will serve as a vital member of our 2020 class.

"We look forward to helping Jon develop his skills and are excited to see the yields of his efforts in bringing positive change to Somerset County at a time when the importance of safe, accessible walking opportunities has arguably never been more pronounced.”

Dugan will complete a six-module distance-learning program starting this month, culminating in the creation of an independent study project focused in Somerset County. He will also engage with America Walks’ national network. 
 
“I grew up in a small town where walking and riding a bicycle was part of our neighborhood lifestyle,” Dugan said. “I feel that safe streets and sidewalks are essential in creating happy and healthy communities”.

He was born and raised in Bound Brook and lives near the Peter’s Brook Greenway in Somerville.

That's where you will find him most days walking the trail and enjoying the views.

The Walking College curriculum is designed to expand the capacity of local advocates to be effective community change agents.  Topics include the science behind the benefits of walking, evaluation of built environments, as well as communication skills and building relationships with stakeholders and decision makers.

This year’s program will also focus on the implications of COVID-19 and climate concerns.

Fellows work with other members of their class and a set of experienced mentors to develop the knowledge and skills needed to create community change.

At the conclusion of the Walking College, fellows will develop a Walking Action Plan for implementation using their new skills.   

America Walks, a nonprofit national organization, encourages communities to create safe, accessible, and enjoyable walking conditions for all. It advocates for viable walking and walkable communities with federal agencies and provides strategy support, training and technical assistance to statewide, regional, and local organizations.

America Walks is also the co-sponsor of the national Every Body Walk! Collaborative. Together, America Walks and the Every Body Walk! Collaborative boast 700 allied organizations who across the nation are working to increase walking and support walkable communities for all members.

More at www.americawalks.org