When we talk about Safe Routes to School, we’re talking about more than just crossing guards and drop-off queues. Developing Safe Routes to School involves a number of actions, from tiny to complex, that create a ripple affect throughout an entire community. When kids can walk, bike, or roll to school, everyone in the area benefits from the improvements made to the built environment and social fabric. Why should you support Safe Routes to School? It’s easy as 1, 2, 3:
- Thriving neighborhoods: To create connections to schools that feel comfortable for students and their caregivers, it’s important to address the issues that create a perception of neglect in your neighborhood. Are bushes so overgrown that the sidewalk becomes impassable? Does litter create an unwelcoming and unhealthy environment? Organizing a community clean up and helping neighbors keep their shrubs neat makes your sidewalks safer for everyone– kids and adults.
- Active bodies = Healthy Minds: Research shows that exercise improves mood and self-esteem as well as supporting mental focus and memory development. When you create Safe Routes to School, you are offering your neighborhood the opportunity to walk themselves to better health!
- Community connections: Areiona King, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Wyandotte County, says that some of the families that participate in walk-t0-school programs in Kansas City, Kansas report that their children are forming deeper friendships and experiencing reduced bullying. In turn, those families are getting to know each other better and developing relationships that didn’t exist before the kids started walking together.
Safe Routes to School isn’t just a parent issue, or a school issue. It’s an opportunity for neighbors to come together in support of healthier, more connected communities. Whether you’re a parent or an educator, a public health professional, a city leader, or just a concerned resident, you are invited to the Greater Kansas City Safe Routes to School Summit on September 11. Come learn about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Walking School Buses, and more from other people who are deeply invested in the health and vitality of our children and neighborhoods!