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Mass in Motion, Adams COA Create Walking Loops

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Bright orange shirts have been designed to keep senior citizens who use the new Adams walking loop safe.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is working to develop safe walking loops for the town's senior citizens.

Northern Berkshire Mass in Motion project coordinator Amanda Chilson and Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti have created a brochure that marks walking loops that focus on the older population but can be utilized by any generation.

"I met with Erica and a few older residents, and we focused on these maps," Chilson told the Selectmen last week. "I asked them…what are some things you would want to see on a map and also on a ground in the community that will help you feel safe walking in certain places in the community."

Girgenti said the paths focus on parks, attractions, safe low-traffic areas, well-lighted areas, flat areas, the rail trail and bus stops.

North Adams has a similar program, also developed by Mass in Motion's Chilson, and the paths are designed to combine the two municipalities.

"They can come in on the B-Bus with their bikes or by themselves, and they can realize that right here on Columbia [Street] they can take the bus into North Adams as well and do the loops there," Girgenti said. "It works for our older adults, but also visitors coming into our community."

The state-funded Mass in Motion program was designed to help spread health and wellness throughout the state. Chilson has been working with North Adams and Clarksburg with similar wellness inspired programs.

Girgenti told the board they have been working to receive grants for the program in Adams. She said they received two recumbent bikes from the Berkshire Bike Path Council.

"They have been getting a lot of miles; we have a lot of older adults who are really excited to get on a bike again," she said. "We did have a 96-year-old gentleman riding a bike with a smile on his face, which is fantastic."

Girgenti said another aspect of the program is awareness. She said recently an elderly women was hit by a bike on the trail. Because of this, they had bright orange shirts designed for the program

"One of the older adults in our community was hit by a bicycle on the rail trail and she was severely injured and is still struggling to recover," Girgenti said. "So part of what we are trying to do with the bright colors is to be walking billboards."

The shirts say "Active Ager" on the front and "warn me when passing" on the back or "loudly on your left or right."

She said people are really excited about the shirts.

"People are really thrilled about these shirts; other communities have come in and asked where they could get these shirts," she said.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said he has been working with Chilson for two years now and thinks she is doing great things for the community.

"With Amanda you can expect a lot of positive energy in a meeting, and honestly the town has received a tremendous amount of services and assistance with projects through Mass in Motion," Butler said. "It is great for our population that is need of services, and promotes eating healthy, buying local, and being more active."

Girgenti said the brochures will start to appear in areas around town, and they will continue to work on raising awareness and aiding the aging population.

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