Safe Routes to School program encourages better fitness
One in three Idaho third-graders is overweight or likely to become obese so ITD’s Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program helps communities support more children walking and bicycling to school to combat the problem.
“SR2S helps communities achieve new balance at a time when escalating transportation costs are forcing schools to reduce busing,” said Jo O’Connor, ITD SR2S coordinator. “Choosing to walk or bike to school will benefit kids, parents and the community.”
Childhood obesity has increased more than fourfold among children ages 6 to 11 since the 1970s, O’Connor explained. That’s why Congress has declared September 2010 as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. (www.healthierkidsbrighterfutures.org)
“A growing number of leaders at both the national and local levels are recognizing that getting children active is one way to counteract a sedentary lifestyle, improve health and reduce traffic congestion,” O’Connor said.
SR2S is designed for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, including those with disabilities, who live within walking and biking distance of school.
O’Connor advises people interested in the program to begin planning and organizing in close cooperation with schools and local leaders, parents, children, organizations and other individuals dedicated to improving their communities and promoting safe bicycling and walking.
ITD provides a website at www.itd.idaho.gov/sr2s that includes useful tools and guidance. People also are invited to connect with other Idaho communities interested in SR2S on Facebook.