Bike to School program named 'game changer'
In recognition of its seven-year track record promoting safe walking and bicycling routes to school for children and fighting obesity, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented Safe Routes to School National Partnership with the 2012 Game Changer Award.
The Game Changer Award nominations reflect activities that have led to paradigm shifts that have advanced obesity prevention efforts.
"The statistics are startling," Safe Routes to School National Partnership Director Deb Hubsmith said. "Between 1969 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75 percent, while the percentage of obese children tripled. Our work helps communities make it safe, fun and convenient for children to walk and bicycle to school and in daily life."
Today, more than 12,000 schools and five million children benefit from Safe Routes to School programs throughout the U.S. At Red Pine Elementary School in In Eagan, Minnesota, for example, 200 children regularly bicycle and walk throughout the year.
"The reduction in traffic congestion around the school has been dramatic," Red Pine Elementary School principal Gary Anger said. "Before the Safe Routes to School program, approximately 100 cars were arriving every day. Now, just 40 to 45 vehicles drop off children each day. Our children arrive ready to learn and our school community is learning about healthy habits they can practice their entire life."
The nonprofit Bikes Belong Foundation hosts the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, which launched in August 2005 at the same time that Congress authorized $612 million for the first national Safe Routes to School program. For more information, go to www.saferoutespartnership.org.
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