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Safe Routes to Schools: Let’s give every kid a healthy future

 

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

This year, Metro Council will decide on critical funding that could give every kid a chance at a healthier future through Safe Routes to School programs. (The Metro Area covers Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties in NW Oregon.) 

A Dangerous Trend for Oregon’s Kids

Our kids are getting less exercise than any previous generation. This is a major factor to one in three kids in the U.S. being overweight or obese, and it’s leading to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension—and eventually early death. Something as simple as walking to school every day isn’t an option for many families in the Metro area. Too many communities lack safe sidewalks, bikeways and crosswalks. Our kids who most need opportunities for physical activity often don’t have safe routes for walking or biking to school.

Healthier Kids, Safer Communities

Kids that can safely walk and bike to their neighborhood school get regular physical activity and do better in school. To ensure that’s an option for all families, Safe Routes to School programs make streets and crossings within the mile-radius of schools safer; empower communities to take charge of their own health and safety with bike and pedestrian safety education; and create communities of families walking and biking together through fun, school-based events.

Safe Routes to Schools Works

Some Metro area schools have received funding since 2006 for robust Safe Routes to School programs. Schools with well-supported programs have seen walking and biking to school quadruple in one year. We can and should do more to ensure every kid in the Metro area has a chance at a healthy future. Over 60,000 kids in the Metro area could be walking and biking to school after just one year of a robust regional Safe Routes to School program.

Every School District in the Metro Region

When it is safe, convenient and fun to walk to school, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Safe Routes to School programs could bring every community in the Metro Region:

-          Healthier kids ready to learn

-          Safer neighborhood streets for all residents

-          Kids equipped with crucial bike and pedestrian safety education

-          Thriving neighborhoods that foster community

-          Opportunities for physical activity for kids who need it most

This year, Metro Council will decide on critical funding that could give 150,000 kids a chance at a healthier future. If you live in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington counties, we’ll be asking you to join us in urging regional leaders to fund Safe Routes to School programs at every school district in the Metro Area.

Updates and opportunities to take action to come throughout the summer and fall. If you’re interested in helping sooner, please email Sarah.Higginbotham@heart.org.

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