Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director
It’s already August, which means these long, hot days of summer will soon be turning into early mornings and back to school schedules. We hope that the summer has given you plenty of opportunities to get out and get active!
We know how important it is to get in daily physical activity to maintain good health. In fact, just 30 minutes a day of physical activity is associated with a healthier, longer life, as well as lowering risks for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Establishing healthy behaviors in childhood, like daily physical activity and nutritious food choices, promotes a lifetime of healthy habits. As an added bonus, we know that kids who get regular physical activity learn more effectively and achieve more academically - good to know as kids head back to school!
Walking or biking to school is a great way to get more physical activity into a student’s day, but often, there is no safe way for kids to walk or bike to school. Often there are missing bike lanes or sidewalks, or no safe crosswalks on busy streets. And sometimes, rules of the road are unknown or misunderstood, and the confusion causes safety issues. According to the Idaho Transportation Department’s 2014 Crash Report, an Idaho child (4-19 years old) is killed or injured riding a bicycle every 3.5 days and every 4 days walking, by a collision with a motorist.
That is why the American Heart Association is working hard to promote the Safe Routes to School program. We’ve partnered with the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, Voices for Healthy Kids, and many others. Together we are working to secure funding to provide communities across Idaho the opportunity to obtain grants for infrastructure projects, like building new sidewalks and lighting crosswalks, or non-infrastructure projects, like a Safe Routes Education Coordinator or forming a walking school bus program.
Safe Routes to School are vital to healthy, active kids, and they can be used by the entire community to help improve safety, health, and build a strong community. We hope we can count on your support throughout the year when we ask you to reach out to your state Senator and Representatives and urging them to support Safe Routes to your local school!