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How SRTS will make future generations healthier than the generations before them

Safe Routes to School Leads the Way to Healthy Lifestyles


 

Thank you to the Healthiest State Initiative for sharing this blog post:

The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative has a goal of making the healthy choice the easy choice for the children of their communities.  Safe Routes to School (SRTS), a program connected to the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, has charged the way in creating more organized activities that give children opportunities to get outdoors and get active.  SRTS has targeted the youth of northeastern Iowa with a number of programs including Walking School Buses and Bike Rodeo Safety Education events.

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A Walking School Bus is a group of students walking to or from school with adult supervisors leading the way. Bike Rodeo Safety Education events demonstrate bike and pedestrian safety education.  Students learn how to become smart and safe bike riders, and are able to practice their biking skills on obstacle courses under adult supervision.  By increasing the opportunity for physical activity and play in early childhood, SRTS programs are able to change their future community environment to one that is healthier.

We asked Ashley Christensen, the Regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator, if the program is shaping its participants to be healthy adults.  Ashley states, “In a society where students are not meeting recommended daily amounts of physical activity, and where obesity and other disease rates are rising as a result, Safe Routes to School efforts are so imperative. Not only is the Northeast Iowa SRTS Program having an immediate, positive impact on students for a healthier today, the program is also helping students develop lifelong healthy habits for a more productive future for themselves and for the communities in which they live.”  So although most participating kids are thinking more about the gross bugs coming out of the sidewalk cracks or how awesome it is to be riding their bike during the school day rather than their own health, they are indirectly building excitement for healthy habits and lifestyles down the road.

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SRTS progress is measured by the number of activities, participants, and volunteers each school year.  Over the last 5 years the program has shown quite the improvement. Last year, 19 Walking School Buses were operated in 9 different communities.  Over 275 students and 50 adults were able to participate.  Six Bike Rodeos were held last year that reached over 650 students with road safety education.  This school year the SRTS anticipates 13 communities to participate in Walking School Buses and 12 Bike Rodeo events to take place.

It might seem intimidating to start a SRTS program for your community, but there are resources that can help!  The SRTS Program is a leader from which other regions can learn.  They have created a 10-step guide to help other regions get started.  Troy Carter with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition serves as the SRTS Program Director for the state of Iowa.  He is a wonderful free resource to any school, community, or region interested in building SRTS efforts.  Contact her at Troy@iowabicyclecoalition.org.

We applaud the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative and the Safe Routes to School program.  They are making a huge impact to their community by increasing physical activity for youth and developing them into healthy, happy adults that will lead a more productive future.  Keep it up!

By |October 27th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments

Small amount of steps, BIG impact on health

 

 

 

Importance Of Getting Your Steps In


 

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Did you know that walking just 30 minutes per day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, improve your blood pressure, maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity and more? This is great news because walking is a simple, easy activity that almost anyone can do, and it’s a great way to start an exercise plan or supplement the activities you are already doing. Get started with a walking plan and get others involved too because walking with a partner or a group is more fun, will hold you more accountable and also promotes safety. You can even start a walking plan that includes the whole family, from Fido to the kids. Showing your kids the importance of getting daily physical activity early on will help them create the habit now, so they are more likely to continue exercising throughout their life. One great way to get a daily walk in is to walk your kids to school. If you’re unable to walk them yourself you can check around the neighborhood and pair them up with friends who walk to school. Some schools even have Walking School Buses, which is a group of students who walk to school together with the help of volunteer parents to ensure safety. If your child’s school doesn’t already have a Walking School Bus, start one! It’s a great way to make walking a part of the community, and walking with friends is more fun. Take note as you’re walking around your community; do you have enough sidewalks, bike paths and cross walks in areas with high walking and biking traffic or near schools? If you find areas that are lacking these safe routes, then your community may benefit from implementing a Safe Routes to School program. Your community may be able to get funding for this program to add safer infrastructure around schools and neighborhoods, which not only benefits kids walking to school, but the whole community because sidewalks, bike paths and cross walks are for everyone! Find out more information on the benefits of walking at www.Heart.org/Walking and the Safe Routes to School program in Iowa at www.HealthierIowa.com and www.IowaSafeRoutes.org.

By |September 15th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||0 Comments