Evanston Receives "City Livability Award" from U.S. Conference of Mayors

Posted on Thursday Jul 19, 2012

On July 9, 2012, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl received the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) “City Livability Award” for the city’s Women Out Walking (WOW) Program. The award was presented to her by Jocelyn Bogen, Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors City Livability Awards Program along with Bill Plunkett and Mike Brink of Waste Management, sponsors of the award.

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors is one of the most respected groups in the country,” explained Mayor Tisdahl. “People look up to the Conference as it is a wonderful lobbying group and has done great things for cities throughout the U.S. We are honored to have been chosen for this award.”

This is the 33rd year in which cities have competed for the award, which is sponsored by USCM and Waste Management, Inc., the nation’s largest environmental solutions provider. The award recognizes mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities, focusing on the leadership, creativity, and innovation demonstrated by the mayors.

According to Bogen, over 230 cities submitted applications with a wide range of programs. “This best practices model shows now, more than ever, that mayors are committed to improving our cities and neighborhoods through increased access to healthy lifestyles and fitness initiatives. The judges were impressed by Mayor Tisdahl’s leadership and felt that this program exemplifies the partnership between city government and citizens to bring about a positive change and improve the quality of life.”

In the months ahead, the USCM will be working to provide information about Evanston’s program to other cities as a “Best Practice in City Livability” by highlighting the mayoral innovation in USCM meetings and publications. 

Evanston’s WOW program, now in its fourth year, is a 12-week walking program designed to encourage women to lead healthier lifestyles and become more physically active.

Using walking as the foundation, WOW consists of three basic components. The first is step tracking, in which individuals and teams track their steps and are given incentives to become more active on a weekly basis, using pedometers, walking journals, and online step tracking websites to record their progress. The second is a series of workshops which run from March through June, offering tips, screening, education, and immersion in a number of physical activities, ranging from tai chi to belly dancing. The third is group walks, which occur daily, weekly and monthly in various neighborhoods.

Since its inception, WOW has served approximately 3,500 women, fostered community relationships, raised health awareness, and reduced obesity rates among women of all ages and fitness levels.

by Eric Palmer