LION Walk promotes town-gown harmony, health and safety

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On Thursday, the bond between Penn State's University Park campus and the surrounding community will be strengthened one doorstep at a time.

For the sixth year, the Living in One Neighborhood (LION) Walk will bring warm greetings and helpful information to students and permanent residents in State College from the University and borough.

“The collaborative spirit between Penn State and State College is in full view during the LION Walk,” said University President Rodney Erickson. “It’s fulfilling for all involved and begins the school year on a collegial note. The walk promotes safety, responsibility and respect, and also is a lot of fun.”

A collaboration of the Office of Student Affairs, the Off-Campus Student Union and the Borough of State College, the theme this year is “Health and Safety.” From 5:15 to 8 p.m. Aug. 29, students joined by borough and University leaders and law enforcement officials will travel door-to-door in the Highlands, College Heights and Holmes-Foster neighborhoods. The Nittany Lion mascot will be making rounds, too.

“The LION Walk brings together a diverse group of people who may not have the chance to interact on a daily basis, but who share a sense of pride in their community,” said Tom Fountaine, State College borough manager. “This yearly event is a chance for leaders in the community to kick off the academic year by starting a community conversation between residents and to encourage community members to continue to have an open dialogue with their neighbors throughout the year.”

More than 100 volunteers are expected to visit more than 700 homes. Each residence will be supplied with a packet that includes a USB flash drive storing the Borough’s 20-page 2013 Neighbor Guide with safety tips, important phone numbers, details of various municipal ordinances and other helpful material; a first aid kit from the Penn State Office of Off-Campus Living; and informational magnets from the likes of University Health Services, the Centre County Women’s Resource Center and Centre LifeLink.

Preparing for her second walk, Kate Curley, a graduate assistant in the Office of the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, said the event promotes mutual respect as State College’s population drastically changes with the start of the new semester.

“The walk reminds people to meet their neighbors and start the year off on the right foot,” said Curley. “Doing so, town and gown relationships are formed and reinforced at the onset so they can continue to be maintained rather than strained later on.”

“We look forward to the LION Walk each year,” said Tyrone Parham, chief of University Police. “We see it as a great welcome back opportunity for our students and warm greetings to our year-round residents. We have the opportunity to welcome students with a smile and share important safety information, hear concerns and answer questions.” 

Since the walk’s inaugural year in 2008, University and borough representatives have come together on multiple projects including The Partnership: Campus & Community United Against Dangerous Drinking and the Off-Campus Housing Fair.

The walk is an energizing start to the semester, said State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.

“It has deepened our town’s relationship with Penn State Student Affairs, which in turn has led to more town-gown events and close cooperation with Penn State’s Off-Campus Student Union,” she said. “In short, this event has increased the integration of off-campus students into our community, the shared goal of State College and Penn State.”

For more information on the walk, go to http://www.statecollegepa.us/LION.

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Last Updated August 30, 2013