This August, the Safe Routes to School program turned 10 years old!
The Safe Routes program was established as a part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and has worked to create safer, more active routes to school. The Safe Routes program has raised awareness about the need to reduce traffic and improve safety around schools. Not to mention, the program has increased the physical activity level of children in communities across the country.
Here are some things that the Safe Routes program has accomplished in the past decade:
- More than 6.8 million students have been impacted by the Safe Routes program since its establishment
- More than 17,400 schools, serving K-8th grade, in all 50 states and D.C., have been a part of the program
- Nearly 70 percent of schools serviced by the program are in low-income communities
Recently, the Plan4Health coalition in Columbus, Ohio, has been working to implement Safe Routes to School initiatives and launched its first walking school bus at Clinton Elementary in April. Three routes were started and led by parent volunteers, along with Plan4Health coalition members. These routes ran every Friday until the end of the school year, and they hope that the program will continue in the new school year.
When students are able to safely walk to school, they are also given the chance to be active. Burn to Learn, an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Making Health Easier efforts, uses info-graphics to showcase how students who are more physically active earn better grades and excel in the classroom. Columbus and Burn to Learn are great examples that we hope will inspire other communities to promote physical activity.
For 10 years, the Safe Routes program has helped to improve the safety issues that have made children vulnerable on their ways to and from school. It has taken collaboration and enthusiasm on behalf of parents, community leaders, school administrators, and elected officials in order to make the Safe Routes program as successful as it has been. We can’t wait to see how this program continues to evolve and positively impact communities over the next 10 years!
Image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention