MARANA — It may be the middle of summer vacation for most kids, but several schools across the state are already planning on creating or enhancing their Safe Routes to School programs for the next school year, thanks to reimbursement grants from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
On June 15, the State Transportation Board approved more than $4.5 million in grant funding for 27 Safe Routes to School projects in schools and communities statewide. The projects, from easy start-up programs to major infrastructure improvements, are all designed with one simple goal in mind: to encourage kids of all ages to walk or bike to school and develop a healthy lifestyle.
The 27 projects include 12 designated for infrastructure improvements, such as the construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and striping. An additional 15 projects are for non-infrastructure elements, such as providing bike helmets to students, safety education and law enforcement. All of the projects are aimed at getting kids walking or biking more often.
Locally, the Marana Unified School District received $21,857 for the Walking School Bus 'Kick Start' program.
ADOT's Safe Routes program also recently awarded reimbursement grants for the very first time to support a project called the Walking School Bus. This involves students and parent volunteers meeting at a designated safe location to walk to school as a group. The grants cover the cost of a Walking School Bus coordinator and stipends for volunteers to assist the coordinator.
"Walking School Buses are simple and fun ways for groups of kids to get a bit of physical activity right in their own neighborhoods," said Brian Fellows, ADOT's Safe Routes to School coordinator. "They can work anywhere — in urban, suburban and rural areas. One way to organize them is by utilizing a remote park and walk location — a park, retail area, church or other place of worship. Select a safe drop-off point away from the school site. Parents can drop off their kids at the site — by car or by walking. From here, they join the group of kids on an adult-escorted walk to school. There's safety in numbers. And the program has the added benefit of reducing the number of cars that typically clog the school parking lot."
Eight schools and agencies around Arizona received a portion of the $124,000 in grant money designated for the Walking School Bus program.
For the complete article see the 07-01-2012 issue.
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