This guest article is written by Nicole Perry, PTA leader and parents of two kiddos at Linwood Elementary in Milwaukie.
May 6th was National Bike to School Day, but many kids couldn’t participate because they do not have a safe route to our school.
This is a big problem.
As moms and PTA leaders at Linwood Elementary in Milwaukie, Anne Roth, Jessica Rinner, and I are horrified that kids are getting the least amount of physical exercise than any previous generation. The CDC expects that our kids are the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than us, their parents. Our kids can’t walk or bike if the streets are not safe, and the most dangerous areas are usually in neighborhoods where kids need activity the most.
Putting activity back into daily routines will help prevent serious health problems. And having positive experiences while being active will help pave the way for being physically active throughout life.
Ane, Jessica, and I are working on a solution.
We have been encouraging families at Linwood to be aware of how they travel to and from school. We use events, activities and incentives to encourage people to actively get to school. Part of the process is educating how to do so safely and enforcing certain rules on school grounds.
Other parts of the process are out of our hands like traffic enforcement (we have a very busy motorcycle cop most afternoons) and the safety features like sidewalks and crosswalks on the streets surrounding our school.
Why do we do spend our time trying to make safe routes to our school?
When our kids actively get to school, there are so many benefits. They’ve enhanced their health by getting some exercise, and they’ve turned on their brain for learning readiness. They’ve connected with their neighborhood community by actually using it in a healthy way. They’ve fostered a sense of independence and empowerment by getting themselves moving.
When our kids walk or bike (or roll on other wheels), they have better concentration for longer in the classroom. Actively getting home at the end of the day gives them a chance to decompress from the stress of school. Seeing neighbors out in our community produces a sense of safety and vibrancy. Whether a kid is out on their own or with friends or family members, transporting one’s self makes you feel proud, especially when serving as a role model to others.
Right now, not every kid has a safe route to school.
That’s why we are encouraging our elected officials to prioritize kids and families in transportation funding. Making streets safe around schools will transform the lives of our kids, our neighbors’ kids, and all families in the greater tri-county region. The cities of Tigard and Milwaukie and school districts including David Douglas, North Clackamas, Beaverton, and others are joining the For Every Kid Coalition in asking Metro to fund Safe Routes to School for our families and for yours.
Visit ourhealthystreets.org/foreverykid, and join us.