Local woman is nationally recognized for efforts to make Aiken more walkable

Aiken City graphic
Aiken City graphic

A local woman is being nationally recognized for her efforts to make Aiken more walkable.

Michelle Harper-Meriwether is receiving a national award from America Walks, which works to make communities a better place to walk.

Harper-Meriwether is one of just 25 people selected to attend the walking college training course.

Some of the other advocates chosen, come from huge cities, like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver.

America Walks is working to make a vision come true- the vision that by 2020 walking in everyday life is embraced across America.

“Not everyone is active so what we want them to do is we want them to pledge the US Attorney General’s call to action, which is step it up and become active communities,” she said.

The Journey of Joy walking movement is something Harper Meriwether started in 2015 to get woman and girls out and about.

“Aiken is perfect, because the layout of it is just perfect there are some areas that we do have of great concern that we will bring to the table and talk about, and we will talk about infrastructure and design where maybe some sidewalks need to be placed,” she explained.

America Walks strives to make communities safe and attractive so that people will be encouraged to get active.

Harper-Meriwether says she has already thought of a few places that need work.

“Even where the houses are on Hwy 118 there’s no sidewalk. I’ve seen students and professors and everybody walking and I’m like that would be the perfect place,” she said.

She’s already spoken with the Mayor and the city of Aiken and most everyone is on board with her plans.

“Although there is a multimillion dollar park that is going to be coming down the pipe, which the city of Aiken, the city council is working on now, and there’s a walking trail there, but there needs to be some other sidewalks in the neighborhood,” she explained.

The program is a 4 month online training course and at the end, Harper Meriwether will get together with a group to discuss a strategic plan for the city of Aiken.

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