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Moville, IA

Small town BIG steps


 

MOVILLE, Ia. — Heath DeStigter watched the school bus drive six blocks from Woodbury Central School to drop off students at their homes.

The physical education teacher wondered, “Why aren’t they walking home? It’s beautiful out!”

DeStigter and other members of Moville’s Safe Routes to School/Complete Streets Coalition, which formed in 2014, learned some parents weren’t letting their kids walk or bike to school because they didn’t feel it was safe, the Sioux City Journal reported.

The city of roughly 1,600 people didn’t have a designated walking route to school that drivers were aware of. The sidewalks were also lacking curb ramps to ease passage to the street for pedestrians and cyclists.

Last fall, 14 curb ramps and ADA pads — mats with truncated domes — were installed on Fourth Street to make the route to school smoother and safer.

On March 2, the City of Moville passed a Complete Streets Resolution that says improvements to sidewalks and trails should be made in the community in upcoming years. The city budgeted $5,000 for additional curb ramps and ADA pads in fiscal year 2016-17.

These changes were spurred in part by a three-year, $120,458 grant awarded to Siouxland District Health Department and the Live Healthy Siouxland Coalition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Angela Drent, Siouxland District Health Department health planner, said the Partnership to Improve Community Health Grant provides funds to address chronic diseases and their associated risk factors, such as limited access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in Woodbury County.

During the first year of the grant, Drent worked with the Moville and Sergeant Bluff-Luton school districts to create safe routes to school and the city councils to adopt complete streets resolutions. This year, she’s also working with the Westwood and Lawton-Bronson school districts to identify the safest walking routes to school.

“The overall goal is to really increase opportunities for physical activity for those kids and to get them to and from school safely,” she said. “It also provides us an opportunity to educate them, so that they can cross an intersection appropriately if they’re biking.”

In all four of the communities, Drent conducted walkability assessments to gauge the condition of sidewalks and identify the speed limits along school walking routes and missing signage at school crossings. She was assisted by Kathie Pfaffle, a GIS specialist and transportation planner for Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council.

Drent said the lack of sidewalks in rural communities is an issue. Years ago, sidewalks weren’t that important to residents. She said cities didn’t mandate that sidewalks be put in when homes were built.

“Most of the communities now have sidewalk ordinances, but it’s getting them to work with the residents on maintaining the sidewalks that are existing. The other thing that we see a lot in some of the rural communities — Moville — is the lack of curb ramps and the ADA pads,” she said.

“If you’re in a wheelchair you can’t get up and down off of a curb safely. (Curb ramps) are also really nice for parents with strollers or young kids who are learning how to bike-ride.”

With a clipboard, scoring sheet and camera in hand, Molly Hayworth, a sixth-grader at Woodbury Central, helped Drent assess the sidewalks on Second Street for more than a half-mile north through downtown and toward the city’s ball fields.

“The sidewalks were really demolished. There were pieces everywhere and in some places they didn’t have sidewalks,” Hayworth said. “With the softball and baseball fields, the kids need to ride bikes or walk to get there sometimes.”

Moville Mayor Jim Fisher said the city council knew there were problems with the sidewalks, but until they saw the pictures from the assessment, he said they didn’t realize how bad they really were.

Fisher said adding curb ramps is expensive. When the city upgraded its water main last summer, he said the council decided to add 14 curb ramps and ADA pads to the project. If each curb was revamped individually, he said it would’ve cost the city $1,000 a curb.

“What we’re trying to do is set a little money aside and do a few curbs each year,” he said. “Second-, third-, fourth-graders — they ride on the sidewalk which is acceptable. We’d much rather have them there than the street. There are a couple (curbs) close to school that we want to get taken care of this summer.”

DeStigter said studies have shown children who are physically active have higher reading and math scores. Although exercise through play is encouraged, he said Woodbury Central did away with recess time before school because of accidents that were occurring.

 

This article originally appeared in the Des Moines Register.

By |May 24th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Active Transportation Is Building Healthier Places For Healthier People

Why Active Transportation?


 

Making walking and bicycling, or active transportation, safe and convenient meets a critical need of American communities that benefits everyone. Active transportation is uniquely positioned to cost-effectively address multiple societal challenges. Communities that prioritize active transportation tend to be healthier by enabling residents to be more physically active in their daily routines and by having cleaner air to breathe. Active transportation systems also foster economic health by creating dynamic, connected communities with a high quality of life that catalyzes small business development, increases property values, sparks tourism and encourages corporate investment that attracts a talented, highly educated workforce.

Families are better able to manage the costs of driving. Motorists benefit from less road congestion. Active transportation works for all kinds of communities, from small rural towns to urban centers. With the creation of walking and bicycling networks linking home, work, school, shopping, transit and recreation destinations at a fraction of the cost of comparable roads, these gains will grow rapidly.

Source: http://www.railstotrails.org/partnership-for-active-transportation/why/

 

By |May 4th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

More exercise = Better Test Scores

Exercise doesn’t just help the body, it helps the mind. 


A GREAT article from our friends at CBS News outlining the correlation between active kids and better test scores.

Check it out!

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/exercise-schoolwork-better-test-scores/

By |March 24th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Its never too cold to be active

One Thing Leads to Another – Walk, Bike, Just Get Active.


The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health, the Mason City Community School District and the Mason City Blue Zones Project have partnered on the community’s successful Walking School Bus Program for many years. Most recently, three representatives from these organizations, including myself, attended the state-wide Safe Routes to School Workshop sponsored by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. During the workshop, the three of us started brainstorming ways to get more kids involved in walking to school. We realized that many students live too far away to walk to school in a timely manner. Our attention then turned to the older students, “How do we get middle-school students involved in Safe Routes to School activities?”
Pretty soon, we were formulating a plan to educate students on bike safety and figure out ways to encourage students to ride their bikes to school. Whether I should admit this or not, we spent the rest of the workshop in our own little world, designing the concept of offering annual bike rodeo and bike presentations to our students. Before long, a list of partner agencies and avid community “bikers” was developed, dates were set, skits were drafted, and incentives were donated.
In May 2015, a core group of six representatives from a variety of organizations throughout the community delivered Bike Safety Presentations to over 350 elementary students at various grade schools and hosted an Annual Bike Rodeo. Local civic organizations offered time, monies, and bike helmets to incentivize students and families to participate. Police and Community Champions offered education and bike safety training, and even a couple local bike shops donated their time and tools to “fix” youth bicycles, ensuring they were road-ready.
This series of activities was done entirely without grant funding or major dollar donations. Several community organizations donated items (bikes, helmets, ad space, etc.) and all the partners made time into their work schedules to help create this successful series of events.
In fact, every partner agreed to incorporate these activities into their annual schedules, so the Bike Education and Bike Rodeo activities should remain a highlight in schools and to families in Mason City each spring, just as the weather starts inviting us back outside!

For more information on the Mason City Bike Safety Programs, contact Kelli Huinker at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health – 22 North Georgia Avenue Suite 300 – Mason City, Iowa 50401. Phone: 641-421-9312 Email: khuinker@cghealth.com.

By |January 12th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Walking School Busses- Health Meets Community

Start Your Day the Active Way – The Walking School Bus


In 2011, the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health was wrapping up a 3 year grant focused on childhood obesity prevention among preschool children, which had seen great success.  However, the grant activities focused on young children and the Department was brainstorming ways to impact school-aged children in adopting healthy behaviors, such as physical activity.

Whether by divine intervention or a random wind of chance, a DVD arrived in the mail box of the Department’s Wellness Coordinator on the same day as the “brainstorming” session was scheduled.  The Coordinator popped in the DVD and a brief video highlighting a “Walking School Bus Program” based in Columbia, Missouri began to play.  The 5 minute video was all the inspiration needed to get the ball rolling for the Health Department.

After successfully applying and receiving Safe Routes to School Funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation in 2011, the Health Department helped two local school districts establish Walking School Bus Programs.  The program, which pairs adult volunteers with a neighborhood group of students, provides a safe and active way for children to travel to school. Together, the groups walk to school each morning, learn traffic safety skills, build friendships, and share stories from their day.  It’s a wonderful program that allows volunteers to give back to their community, provides a safe and active way for children to arrive to school, and gives parents a piece of mind knowing that their children are not only safe walking to school, but are building friendships for years to come.

Jump ahead to the current day, and our community has 4 Elementary Walking School Bus programs, operating every school day in the fall and spring, with over 25 volunteers and anywhere between 50-70 students.  Thanks to Safe Routes to School Funding, this program was able to get the jump start it needed and continues to be a community staple!

For more information on the Cerro Gordo County Walking School Bus Program, contact the Walking School Bus Coordinator, Kelli Huinker, at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health – 22 North Georgia Avenue Suite 300 – Mason City, Iowa 50401. Phone: 641-421-9312 Email: khuinker@cghealth.com.

By |January 5th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Walking To School Is Simple

Special Guest Blogger; Sarah Taylor-Watts  

Iowa Department of Public Health


Do you remember walking to school?  Most of us do.  But over the last 40 years the number of students who walk to and from school has been drastically declining. At the same time this generation of children is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents because Iowa children are getting too little physical activity and not enough good nutrition.

 

Walking to school is an easy, low cost activity that most Iowa students can do – if the community environment is set up for success.  The premise of safe routes to school is simple.  Where it’s safe, get kids walking and biking.  Where it is not safe, make changes.  By funding safe routes to school we can help many Iowa communities create an environment that supports walking and in turn gives our children the chance to be healthier, learn better and live longer.

 

Walking and biking to school is a great way to keep Iowa kids healthy.  Walking one mile to and from school each day makes up two-thirds of the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Iowa children walking to school has health benefits beyond physical activity.  More walking and biking means fewer cars on the road which leads to better air quality, less traffic congestion, and more personal safety.

 

Healthy kids do better in the classroom too.  Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior).

 

It’s hard not to support healthier, brighter Iowa kids.  Let’s all work together to help more of our children lead healthier, longer and productive lives.  We can take the first step by funding safe routes to school.

-Guest Blogger; Sarah Taylor Watts- Iowa Department of Public Health

By |December 21st, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

BIG news in support of SRTS

American Heart Association is Supporting SRTS


 

There is something big… giant …GIGANTIC happening for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) efforts across Iowa. The American Heart Association is teaming up with SRTS champions across the state through the Healthier Iowa Coalition (healthieriowa.com) to encourage the state legislature to invest $1.5 million in a state-funded SRTS program. This. Is. HUGE.

This means that a fund would be created to support SRTS projects—and SRTS projects alone—across the state, both infrastructure (sidewalks and crosswalks) and non-infrastructure (Walking School Buses and safety education).

Federal funding for SRTS was cut in 2012. This negatively impacted SRTS efforts across the country, especially in Iowa. Iowa depended on these federal funds to support SRTS projects within the state. With no more federal dollars coming in, Iowa no longer had funds to dedicate to SRTS projects. Instead, SRTS projects were tacked on to another funding stream where they must compete for grants against environmental management projects, scenic byway projects, historic preservation projects and even trail projects sadly enough.

However, if we can encourage the state legislature to invest in a state-funded program, we would bring back dedicated SRTS funding to Iowa. Funding to support projects that make routes to school and other community locations safer and more accessible…projects that save lives through safety education…projects that benefit the health, academic performance, behavior and self-esteem of students…projects that provide social interaction, quality of life and daily purpose to adults…projects that reduce air pollution…projects that positively impact the economy…projects that invest in a vibrant and sustainable future…projects that help our students, our families, our neighbors, our schools, our communities, OUR IOWA!

In order to make this push within the state legislature a success, we need the support of our fellow Iowans. SRTS is not just for students and schools. SRTS benefits the whole community and is for EVERYONE, including YOU.

Please show your support for a state-funded SRTS program for Iowa by visiting:www.healthieriowa.com/take-action/.

You can also share your personal SRTS story by visiting: healthieriowa.com/take-action/share-story/.

By |December 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Southern Iowa Town MAKING BIG Advancements with SRTS

Osceola continues setting the path for a healthier future


 

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 3:51 p.m. CST

The city of Osceola, along with Clarke County, continues to build on the “Let’s Move Osceola” program and improve on the beauty and draw of the community through the construction of an intricate trail system.

These trails will ultimately connect area parks to the “Safe Routes to School” program, as well as the Osceola square and, eventually, expand to connect with other health-conscious communities.

Community health-focused trail systems are adding value and regional appeal to many rural areas throughout Iowa, and Osceola is one community leading the way.

The “Let’s Move Osceola” program, based on a 2005 study, was the genesis of a concept to create a trail system throughout Osceola. Focused on inspiring healthy activities throughout the community, the trails system was estimated to be in excess of $3 million to develop. Through consideration and budget reviews, the program was shelved to focus on immediate needs like the “Safe Routes to School” program for local students.

When the “Safe Routes to School” program was kick-started by a $75,000 grant from Wellmark, Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) and the city of Osceola devised a strategy of also launching the “Let’s Move Osceola” trail system, but one piece at a time, complementing and augmenting the Safe Routes map, as well as removing the burden of funding for the entire project.

“When we saw the interest Wellmark and other sponsors of the Safe Routes program were showing, we knew we had a great plan,” said Bill Trickey, CCDC executive director. “By breaking up the overall project, the ‘Let’s Move Osceola’ program fit seamlessly with the bigger picture of inspiring our entire community to pursue a healthier active lifestyle.”

The final proposed map for the two programs has access to pathways that wind through and around Osceola and the surrounding areas.

By partnering with Joe Johnston, owner of Johnston Properties, Bill Black, one the members of the Osceola Board of Supervisors, and Knapp Krause LC, CCDC and the city of Osceola procured the land needed for the first part of the extended trail in the southwest corner of Q Pond Park.

While the first designs had the trail created with gravel, it was determined to be in the best interest of the community to make the trail concrete.

Ty Wheeler, Osceola city administrator, began the task of gathering bids and finding the capital to make the “Let’s Move Osceola” trail system a reality.

Through the combined backing efforts of the CCDC Board, the city of Osceola and  Osceola Chamber Main Street, the start of a beautiful trail is now available, winding its way along Clay Street out to Q Pond Park, where it can then be taken along the west side of the park out to Q Pond Park dam.

Soon, Osceola residents and travelers from surrounding communities will be able to walk, run or bike from East Lake Park, to Q Pond, through the city square and out to Grade Lake, creating a health-focused destination in Osceola and Clarke County.

Future improvements funded by an already-approved grant from Iowa Health Department, as well as donations from the Rotary Club and other beneficiaries, include exercise stations along the trail to help improve the health and wellness of the community and all who will come enjoy the new trails.

By integrating with the “Safe Routes to School” system, students also will be able to safely take walking field trips down Kossuth Street to Highway 34 where they can travel out to East Lake Park to study nature, observe the swans at the lake, get some fresh air and exercise.

Be sure to get out and see the trail in its gorgeous fall foliage and continue watching for further improvement announcements.

For more information concerning the “Let’s Move Osceola” and “Safe Routes to School” programs, contact Trickey at 115 E. Washington St., Osceola, IA 50213, Phone: 641-342-2944, Fax: 641-342-6352, Web: http://ClarkeCountyIowa.com, Email: info@clarkecountyiowa.com

By |November 25th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

The benefits of living in a walking neighborhood

Moving to a walking neighborhood is good for your blood pressure


This news release is featured in a news conference at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015

This release contains updated information from the abstract

ORLANDO, Florida, Nov. 8, 2015 — People who moved from a neighborhood that required a vehicle to run errands to one that made walking-errands convenient were significantly less likely to have high blood pressure than people who moved from one low-walkability neighborhood to another low-walkability neighborhood, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

To determine a neighborhood’s walking friendliness, researchers used Walk Score®, which rates neighborhoods from 1 to 100 for accessibility by foot to stores, parks, schools and other destinations. “Walker’s Paradise” neighborhoods received a score of 90 or greater. Walk Score® is an open-access walkability index available at www.walkscore.com.

This is the first study to determine whether moving to a walking-friendly neighborhood affected blood pressure. Researchers compared 1,057 pairs of adults from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2001 to 2010), who moved from a low walkability neighborhood to either a high walkability or another low walkability neighborhood in Ontario, Canada. Blood-pressure data was obtained from linked health administrative databases held and analyzed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and patients were monitored for up to 10 years.

Researchers found that people who moved to a walking-friendly neighborhood had a 54 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than people who left one walking-unfriendly neighborhood for another.

High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease — the leading cause of death in the United States — and for stroke, which is the fifth-leading cause of death. Studies show that an active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of all three of these diseases. For most healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination of both) each week as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle called My Life CheckTM- Life’s Simple 7.

“We need to set people up for success by making walking instead of driving the more convenient and enjoyable choice,” said lead author Maria Chiu, M.Sc, Ph.D, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “Urban planners and policymakers can do their part by designing neighborhoods that are more pedestrian-friendly.”

Researchers noted that they did not have detailed dietary data other than fruit and vegetable consumption, which could affect blood pressure.

Co-authors are Mohammad-Reza Rezai, M.D., Ph.D.; Laura C. Maclagan, M.Sc.; Peter C. Austin, Ph.D.; Baiju R. Shah, M.D., Ph.D.; Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D.; and Jack V. Tu, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded the study.

Note: Actual presentation time of Abstract 134 is 4:15 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015.

By |November 11th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

How Iowa is leading the way with SRTS

Making SRTS a Priority in Iowa 


Walking School Bus

There is something big… giant …GIGANTIC happening for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) efforts across Iowa. The American Heart Association is teaming up with SRTS champions across the state through the Healthier Iowa Coalition to encourage the state legislature to invest $1.5 million in a state-funded SRTS program. This. Is. HUGE.

 

This means that a fund would be created to support SRTS projects­—and SRTS projects alone—across the state, both infrastructure (sidewalks and crosswalks) and non-infrastructure (Walking School Buses and safety education).

 

Dedicated federal funding for SRTS was cut in 2012. This negatively impacted SRTS efforts across the country, especially in Iowa. Iowa depended on these dedicated federal funds to support SRTS projects within the state. With no more dedicated federal SRTS dollars coming to Iowa, SRTS projects were tacked onto another funding stream where they must compete for grants against environmental management projects, scenic byway projects, historic preservation projects and even trail projects sadly enough. (Is it even possible for grant reviewers to fairly compare a crossing guard project or Walking School Bus project to a wastewater run-off project or a habitat restoration project…??)

 

However, if we can encourage the state legislature to invest in a state-funded program, we would bring back dedicated SRTS funding to Iowa. Funding to support projects that make routes to school and other community locations safer and more accessible…projects that save lives through safety education…projects that positively impact the health, academic performance, behavior and self-esteem of students…projects that provide social interaction, quality of life and daily purpose to adults…projects that reduce air pollution…projects that benefit the economy…projects that invest in a vibrant and sustainable future…projects that help our students, our families, our neighbors, our schools, our communities, OUR IOWA!

 

In order to make this push within the state legislature a success, we need the support of our fellow Iowans. Please show your support for a state-funded SRTS program for Iowa by clicking hereSRTS is not just for students and schools. SRTS benefits the whole community and is for EVERYONE, including you.

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By |November 6th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments