Walking and biking to school means healthier children and less traffic, so in 2003 the federal Department of Transportation initiated the Safe Routes to School program providing funding for streetscape improvements, education programming and other enhancements that will encourage more children to walk or bicycle to school. To facilitate the use of this money, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership created the State Network Project in 2008. The District of Columbia is one of twenty jurisdictions participating in the State Network Project. Beginning in 2010, a Regional Network Project was initiated, and Washington DC was chosen along with Los Angeles CA and Atlanta GA to apply regional planning principles to the Safe Routes to School effort.
At WABA, our Safe Routes to School Network Organizer coordinates efforts at the local and regional level to develop policies that encourage the use of Safe Routes to School funding. This work entails bringing diverse organizations together including health, government, smart growth and individual school system representatives to discuss how we can encourage more children to walk or bike to school. Beginning the day with exercise is proven to have a profound, positive and lasting impact on children’s health, and WABA is proud to be a part of this solution to the epidemic of childhood obesity.
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