Stretch of Brightmoor sidewalk to become interactive running track

A group from the University of Michigan has won a $40,000 grant to build an interactive play space along a broken stretch of sidewalk in the Brightmoor neighborhood. Titled FitLIGHT, the project was a winner of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition from KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging physical activity in young people.

FitLIGHT will transform a busted up sidewalk along Burt Road into an illuminated rubber-surface running track. A solar-powered speed display will tell people how fast they are running. The track will start at a length of 50 yards and has the potential to grow, depending on the construction.

The project was designed to combat childhood obesity with the help of a little healthy competition, says University of Michigan associate professor Nick Tobier, who along with colleague and assistant professor Roland Graf headed the project. It was designed by staff from the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design, with collaboration from Michael Flynn. Tobier has been working in Brightmoor for nearly ten years through a class he teaches in collaboration with Detroit Community Schools.

The FitLIGHT track is adjacent to the to-be-completed Brightmoor Maker Space, itself located on a vacant plot on the Detroit Community Schools campus. 

"There's a big opportunity to get more creative with physical education," says Tobier. "There's a lot of potential there."

Tobier's Change by Design classes at University of Michigan combine design and technology to stimulate physical activity in young people. His students work with Brightmoor students to come up with the projects, like an LED shoelace network, lighting up as students moved their bodies.

Tobier is aiming for a March 2017 construction date. In the meantime, he's soliciting bids for the construction process, organizing small workshops to get people interested, and performing informative on-the-street introductions to FitLIGHT.

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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