LeeAnne Ferguson is the Safe Routes to School Director at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the For Every Kid Campaign Manager. She is an important and dedicated partner of the AHA’s on the issue of Safe Routes to School.
We wanted to share her story with you and a little bit more about the important work we are doing together.
Q: What campaign or effort have you been an advocate of?
LeeAnne: “I am most passionate about kids’ health and safety. I want every kid to be able to safely walk, bike and access transit to school (also called Safe Routes to School). This issue is important to be because our kids are in real danger from traffic fatalities and obesity related diseases. Too many kids. I am tired of the fact that where you live, what color your skin is, and how much money your family has determines how safe your streets are and how healthy you are. We are leaving many, many kids and families behind and it is past time to change that. “
Q: Why do you advocate alongside the American Heart Association?
LeeAnne: “AHA has helped support the campaign through the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, and staff engaged with our For Every Kid campaign very early on. AHA has been great mentor and inspiration for grassroots organizing.”
Q: What is the For Every Kid campaign?
LeeAnne: “We have 84 organizations in the For Every Kid coalition, including 5 cities and 8 school districts. Over 3,500 people have taken action and asked elected officials to dedicate $15 million to Safe Routes to School for every kid in the Portland metro area. Dozens of For Every Kid members have attended meetings and testified in support of Safe Routes to School.”
Q: Can you describe a challenge you’ve faced—and why you haven’t given up?
LeeAnne: “I was very discouraged at first. Like when every time we talked to an elected official, they would say that they agreed, but that it is not possible to make safe routes to school. Over time we have been able to change this statement to how can we make safe routes to school. Now elected officials are working through tough questions in a tight budget to figure out how to address the problem. We will continue to ask that they dedicate $15 million to safe routes to school for every kid.”