Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood was quiet on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. There were few cars on the road and almost no one on the sidewalks. The local Walk to Thrive club controlled the streets, briskly making its way down 24th Street.
The only hint of trouble was the silver graffiti spray painted on a public restroom at Meadowview Park. “Look at that graffiti; that’s horrible,” said Phyllis Lusan, 59, who lives nearby in Valley Hi, as the group of about 20 circled the park.
“That’s gang stuff,” Lusan said.
Meadowview is not necessarily known as a strolling destination. The main streets are wide and heavily trafficked. Two years ago, a man stabbed his wife in the neck on 24th Street near Meadowview Road, the location of Wednesday’s walk.
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Last year, violent crime increased 35 percent and property crime increased 11 percent in City Council District 8, which contains most of Meadowview and other nearby neighborhoods, city police statistics show.
Kaiser Permanente chose the south Sacramento neighborhood for its third and newest Walk to Thrive Club in the region at the urging of Pat Pappo, 63, who lives nearby in the more affluent Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood.
After hearing about Walk to Thrive clubs in Roseville and downtown Sacramento, Pappo wrote to Kaiser Permanente to complain about the lack of programs available to the “underserved community of south Sacramento.”
Pappo said she was surprised when Kaiser responded to her query. Wednesday was the first meeting of the south Sacramento club, which kicked off its walk at the Sam & Bonnie Pannell Community Center.
The once-a-week walks will be accompanied by a Kaiser Permanente doctor. On Wednesday, the health care giant also offered health care screenings and refreshments.
Most of the people who gathered at the community center early Wednesday morning for the 2-mile trek were veteran walkers, having started or participated in their own walking clubs in south Sacramento.
“Crime comes and it goes,” said Meadowview resident Ray Boswell, 70. “I like it out here. Meadowview is not a bad area. You have crime everywhere. I’ve been walking out here for 10 years and I’ve never had a problem.”
Pappo said Wednesday’s walk was her first real introduction to Meadowview, and that she was impressed by the size of the senior citizen community. She said she plans to return and walk with the club again.
Lusan said the walking club could improve the neighborhood’s sense of community. “They’re trying to change the image of the neighborhood,” Lusan said of Kaiser. “People see other people walking, and they ask how to get involved.”
Richard Isaacs, chief physician at Kaiser’s South Sacramento Medical Center, said the walk is focused on improving the health of the community.
Isaacs, who oversees all the operations at the center, said the residents of Meadowview are his patients. They’re the people coming into the center’s hospital or emergency room, Isaacs said. A walking group, he said, could help them stay healthy so they don’t have to go to the hospital.
On Wednesday, attendees lined up to get their blood pressure taken.
For Lusan, though, the pace of the walking group was a little slow.
“When we finish here, I’m really going to walk,” Lusan said. “This is just a stroll. You gotta get that heart rate up, you gotta get the arms moving. It’s all in the arms.”
Lusan has been walking every day for six years, ever since she was diagnosed with diabetes. When told that she would have to start taking medication, Lusan refused. She decided to start walking instead – in the mornings at 7 a.m., and the evenings at 8 p.m., up to 9 miles a day.
“Walking is my medication,” Lusan said.