Walk a mile in their shoes
By Anne Craig, Communications Officer
Queen’s Master of Public Health students have designed six unique walking tours that provide an in-depth look at the impact of social issues on the local community.
“We were inspired by the Stones website that features historical walking tours highlighting Kingston,” says course instructor Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences). “Our tours are different because they highlight the community we are living in right now. The students researched and developed the tours focusing on areas of study they are interested in.”
The audio-guided tours explore how issues such as housing, food security, socioeconomic status and the built environment can impact the health of local residents and the overall community. The built environment tour focuses on how the layout of a community can affect levels of physical activity while the nutrition and food insecurity tour shows participants how accessible (or inaccessible) healthy food is to people living in low-income areas of Kingston. Another tour examines factors that play a role in early childhood development including prenatal health, access to health services and nutrition.
“The whole process of developing a walking tour, from writing the script to planning the route to choosing the target audience, provided me with the opportunity to understand how the determinants of health that we studied in class play out in different areas of the city,” says Erin McSorley (MPH’14), a student who worked on the project.
Diane Lu (MPH’14) and her team developed the food insecurity tour. She says the process was an eye-opening and humbling experience. “I have gained a deep appreciation and respect for those individuals and families living with food insecurity, specifically here in Kingston, through the walking tour I designed,” explains Dr. Lu.
The self-guided walking tours are available for download from the Kingston Helps website. Dr. Davison says in the future she hopes these six self-guided tours will be part of the Jane’s Walk Global Festival which happens each year in early May. The event is named after Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who championed a community-based approach to city building. The free, locally organized walks are held all over the world.
“I think these tours represent a great example of community engagement on behalf of Queen’s students and we would love to get as many people to lace up their walking shoes as possible,” adds Dr. Davison.