by Robin Schepper
(June 14, 2012) – I took my final run this morning, striding up Albemarle, hoofing it up Connecticut, coasting down Nebraska, accelerating on Nevada before slowing down on Linnean up the long hill and speeding up again when I reached Albemarle with my dog in tow. I am not an avid runner but I needed to plant my feet on the streets that have been home for six years, especially before I leave on a plane to settle in Colorado for the next half of my life.
DC, like so many places, is a city of neighborhoods. Our community, Forest Hills, is a gem. This is where I pushed my son, Shokhan, first in his stroller and then on his bike to Chesapeake Park; where I cheered loudly watching my older son, Marat play baseball. In the winter, I joined the boys racing down Carnegie Hill on our sleds and in every season walked with the boys and our dogs through the woods in Rock Creek. This is where our neighbors let us use their pool whenever we wanted and where neighbors stopped each other in the street to say hello, disregarding the fast pace of the city.
One of my proudest moments in the neighborhood was working with fellow Murch elementary school parents to get more sidewalks so our kids could be safe and more active. I grew up in New York City walking 20 blocks every day to get to school. I couldn’t understand how we could be so close to Connecticut and not have sidewalks. So when we pass the sidewalks on Albemarle, Linnean , Chesapeake and Nebraska my kids still say, “that’s one of mommy’s sidewalks” and I realize that I have taught my children that one person CAN make a difference and when we join together with others, as I did, you can have even more impact.
I leave Forest Hills with a heavy heart but I know I will always return and I have a hope for this neighborhood that all of you can fulfill. Did you know that your zip code determines your health more than going to the doctor? With one on three children overweight or obese in this country and projections that 50% of America will be obese by 2030, we need to eat better and walk more. The CDC says that adults need 30 minutes and kids 60 minutes of daily exercise. Imagine all the Murch and Montessori kids walking and biking to school; imagine seniors taking strolls through our neighborhood from their homes on Connecticut avenue; imagine riding your bike, instead of driving your car to CVS, Comet and Politics and Prose; imagine the Chesapeake farmer’s market filled with adults and children picking out fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. And most of all imagine being the neighborhood that defies the national statistics on obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and escalating health care costs. We can be the leader in this city and in this country but it takes a little effort to change our habits. I hope you take up this challenge and I hope to see you on the streets when I come back to visit in the future.