Safe Routes to School Spokane Launch

Safe Routes to School Spokane Launch

Feb 12, 2015

Spokane Regional Health District Launches Safe Routes to School Spokane

For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer at (509) 324-1539 or kpapich@srhd.org 

SafeRoutesSpokane_Logo_Spokane.jpgSPOKANE, Wash. – Feb. 12, 2015. – To encourage more of Spokane’s children to safely walk and bike to school, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) launched its Safe Routes to School Spokane program (Safe Routes) this week.
 
Slated to roll out to seven area public grade schools during the next three years, the program is being introduced this spring to two of them—Holmes and Seth Woodard elementaries.
 
Said SRHD Health Officer, Dr. Joel McCullough, “With activities like Walking School Busses, Safe Routes will help assure parents that their children will be safer walking to school. This also addresses the growing concern in our community around childhood obesity by providing our children with fresh air and exercise.”
 
The five other schools include Stevens, Logan, Sunset, Bemiss and Moran Prairie elementaries. SRHD staff is designing the program to benefit each of the schools in ways unique to the barriers they face in getting more students walking and biking safely. Tools and resources include:
 

  • Walking School Buses: A walking school bus (WSB) is a group of children walking to school with two or more trained to help keep kids safe. It’s a simple program with far reaching benefits for families.
  • Stop and Walk Links: Parents who do not live on a Walking School Bus route can drop students off at a designated location to join friends in daily chaperoned walks to school.   
  • Resource Boards: These interactive displays located by school offices offer calendars, resources and helpful tips to stay safe while getting active.
  • Safe Routes Challenge Programs: Fun prizes like bikes, helmets, backpacks and tennis shoes will reward children’s walking, biking and distance-traveled.
  • SafeRoutesSpokane.org: Coming soon, a web site for students, parents, neighbors, staff and volunteers offering safe driving pledges, featured stories, videos, WSB info and much more.
    • Parent Portal: A secure page on the Safe Routes web site with details about walking school bus routes and pick-up times.

"The Safe Routes partnership between the health district and Spokane Public Schools is a win-win for our district, our families and our students," said Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools Dr. Shelley Redinger. “It provides that additional level of safety and a healthy lifestyle choice combination that we know has direct, positive impacts on our community."
 
Walking or biking to school benefits children, families and the community:

  1. Physical activity needs - children need an hour of physical activity per day—walking or biking to school counts toward this minimum. Childhood obesity is a serious health issue and in 2012, in Spokane County, approximately 25 percent of adolescents were either overweight or obese.
  2. Better concentration at school - evidence shows that children who are physically active on the way to school are better able to focus in class.
  3. Learning safety skills - children learn road safety from adults who help them get safely to and from school.
  4. Decreased pollution and congestion - increasing the number of students who walk or bike helps reduce car idling and hazardous congestion around schools.
  5. Building connections - these events help develop trusting relationships between families, schools and the broader community.

Nationally, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, while the number of children walking and biking to school has declined. According to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, less than 16 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 15 walked or biked to or from school, compared to 42 percent in 1969.
 
Through the 2005 passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Congress designated a total of $612 million toward developing the National Safe Routes to School Program. In 2014, SRHD received a grant from the Washington Department of Transportation to deliver the program locally over the next three years.
 
These funds align well with other active transportation initiatives, past and present, of the health district’s including Stickman Knows, Spokane’s first comprehensive bike, pedestrian and motorist safety awareness campaign.
 
If you have questions about specific activities or events, contact Mariah McKay at 509-324-1537 or mmckay@srhd.org. For more information about Safe Routes to School, visit www.srhd.org, or coming soon, www.saferoutesspokane.org, as well as a dedicated Facebook page, coming soon. There is also a national Safe Routes web page at www.saferoutesinfo.org.