A conversation with Linda Brooks, founder of the Urban Trials Project Committee

| November 25, 2015
Linda Brooks

Linda Brooks

By Jeanie Summerville

Linda Brooks is the CEO/President of Step Up To Fitness Studio Inc., located at 2505 Gay St., and 3415 Warsaw St., in Fort Wayne. She’s also the founder/president of Urban Trails Project Committee.  Other members include Vice President James Redmond; Secretary Pam Burns; Assistant Secretary Ursulyn Raphael; Treasurer LaJuan Phillips; Executive Board Member Jonathan Ray and Executive Board Member Charles Howard.

1.) When was Urban Trails Project Committee founded and what is the Mission Statement?

We were founded and formed in 2013.  Our mission is to promote the development of alternative transportation trails in the urban community on the southeast side of Fort Wayne, Indiana, to improve and maintain excellent health and increase quality of life or its diverse citizens.

2.) Who played a major role, along with yourself, to make this happen for the community?

Mr. James Redmond, by advocating for the safety of us on the southeast side.  Having my fitness business and doing 5K for almost every type of organization and fundraiser, I heard Mr. Redmond talk with City Council, but they didn’t seem to be responsive to him.  And, after reading the articles he wrote in a newspaper about the safety of Hanna Street, and how those painted lines aren’t going to stop cars from hitting people, I teamed up with him because together we can make it happen.  Then a couple of others came on board and we got it done.  Also, Jonathan Ray because phase one would have not happened if he had not signed over some of the land in front of the Urban League to the city of Fort Wayne.

3.) What or who was your motivation for starting this project?

Initially, it was the legacy of our youth in the area of health because in some research studies they said, our youth are going to die before us due to all the electronic technology since a lot of them are not very sanitary.  So we had to do something to encourage them to get out more and that’s why the development of Hanna St., is open for our community starting at Berry and Hanna Street and out to Hanna and Tillman Road, at Tillman Park which leads into Foster Park.

4.) To actually see the progress on the trails, how does that make all of you feel?

It feels great, like all the money that was spent was well invested because there are certain things you can’t buy and health is one of them.  So, we educate our kids and provide them with a quality of life where they can take care of their health, be outside and be active, that’s priceless.

5.) What was your biggest challenge?

Getting the vision to be seen by city government and the community because they wasn’t really educated on it but I was tenacious and my hard work paid off for all of us.

6.)  What is and will be your greatest joy about this project? 

My greatest joy is that Urban Trails runs along Rev. James Bledsoe Memorial Way.  Because it’s very important that his legacy and what he stood for is remembered by our youth since he had a lot to do with civil rights and social agencies for children.   And, my greatest joy will be, when his Memorial Way has been developed and made into a beautiful and awesome masterpiece, just like the Dr. Martin Luther King’s bridge downtown.  So our young people know that Fort Wayne do have people in history that made a difference for all of us.  Also, my greatest joy will be, if the city of Fort Wayne give Smitty’s Construction the bid to work on the trail because he is an African American Contractor and this is also important to the legacy/history for the African Americans and being that it’s on the memorial way, I believe it’s going to be one of the best and the first African American alternate transportation trail in the country.

7.)  Is there an upcoming event planned to utilize the trails?

Yes, we’re having our first Annual Urban Trails Project Committee (U.T.P.C.) Healthy Lifestyle Trail Walk on Saturday Dec. 5, 2015.  We’ll start at Fort Wayne Urban League 2135 S. Hanna St., at 9 a.m.  So come out and walk the first phase of the Alternate Transportation Trails while promoting a healthy lifestyle at this important historical event.  For everyone that would like to participate in this walk, contact us by calling (313) 434-6549 or Fort Wayne Urban League (260) 745-3100 for more information.

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