At least three times a week, a group of Como residents take to the streets to get exercise, share stories, and connect with the community. These Walking Moai members are helping energize residents, moving Como a step closer to a thriving, revitalized neighborhood.
Driving through the heart of Como today, you likely wouldn’t know that this small neighborhood located in central Fort Worth was once a resort destination, named for the famed Lake Como in Como, Italy. Over time, the area morphed into a thriving community with many small businesses, schools, and churches. Then, poverty took hold. But a collaborative effort between the city and community leaders is revitalizing the historic, predominately African American neighborhood, one step at a time.
Leading the way is the Lake Como Wellness Council, established by the Lake Como Neighborhood Advisory Council to promote better health and well-being and implement Blue Zones Project best practices in the community. Chaired by Como native Leslie Polk, the Wellness Council now has area residents moving naturally, connecting more, and giving back through walking groups, community events, gardening, and volunteer efforts.
Three times a week, Como residents can be seen putting their feet on the ground and eyes on the streets through multiple Walking Moais®. Small groups of residents join together to get in their steps and share friendship and stories. They also take note of areas of need and encourage those they meet along the way to also get engaged in revitalization efforts.
The neighborhood first launched its Walking Moais in early 2018. Collectively, the Moai members walked a total of 45 miles over the course of 10 weeks. Participants raved about the social connections and exercise the walking groups provided. Now that warm weather and longer daylight hours have returned, the Moais have reformed and are once again walking, laughing, and reaching out to fellow residents.
The Wellness Council also established an annual Fall Festival that promotes physical health, relationship building, healthy eating, and opportunities to get involved in the community. With assistance from Blue Zones Project, the first festival attracted more than 100 attendees and 40 individual volunteers. Other Como community members volunteered to help local organization Opening Doors for Women revitalize a community garden.
“Blue Zones has helped us add a new aspect to Como that we hope thrives and engages those in our neighborhood,” said Eva Williams, secretary of the Wellness Council. The council continues to meet monthly and actively promotes wellness, community engagement, and volunteer opportunities within the community and beyond.