Walkability Action Institute and Walkability Virtual Academy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors



The Walkability Action Institute (WAI) and Walkability Virtual Academy (WVA) is an annual multi-day “course” for interdisciplinary teams comprising public health, transportation, planning, elected officials, and other disciplines. Healthy Places by Design participates as WAI/WVA faculty and co-facilitates the Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP is a peer learning and exchange network of WAI/WVA alumni that continues to build their capacity to implement policy, systems, and environmental changes to make communities more walkable, moveable, equitable, and inclusive. In addition, our team co-designed, drafted, and finalized the Active Community Tool that communities can use to assess local built environment, planning, and policy supports for physical activity.

The WAI/WVA training is a critical component of CDC’s efforts to increase walkability. The trainings include walking audits, discussion sessions with peers, capacity building, and virtual workshops with leaders in the walkability movement, like Karma Harris, Charles T. Brown, Mark Fenton, Karin Korb, Ian Lockwood and others. Each local WAI team formalizes what they learn by creating a detailed action plan for their community. In many cases, these action plans help drive positive change in regional transportation systems to support safety, health, equity, and disability inclusion.


Our Support

To complement these efforts, Healthy Places by Design co-facilitates calls with NACDD staff to create opportunities for additional peer learning. This Community of Practice serves as an opportunity to focus on specific walkability topics, share resources, and address local challenges. For both the WAI/WVA and CoP, Healthy Places by Design co-designs collaborative learning sessions and provides technical support for virtual technology as needed.



“When communities are built for all of us and with all of us in mind, nobody gets left out. I’ve learned that this work has to proactively make the effort to address unintended consequences of successful walkability efforts, so that we continually try to improve more than solely health by integrating place-based approaches, inclusion of all kinds, and working to improve social justice.”

Public Health Consultant, NACDD, Walkability and Healthy Communities Lead

“When communities are built for all of us and with all of us in mind, nobody gets left out.”

Learn more about this project on our blog:


How Resident Insights Improved One City's Walkability Plans

One walkability team from Tacoma, WA, returned from the WAI in 2017 hoping to improve access and safety for people who already walk both by choice and necessity—and to encourage others to walk more.

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Atlanta's Beltline: More than a Walkway

Atlanta was originally a major railroad hub, which left behind a circular, 22-mile potential trail corridor. The city, investors, residents, non-profits, and 45 of its neighborhoods have come together to reclaim the abandoned rail line and have branded it as the Atlanta BeltLine.

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Walkability and Active Transportation

Explore the active transportation tag on our blog to discover why walkability matters to community health, resources for increasing walkability, and inspiring community success stories.