Land of Ten Thousand Lakes Investing in Sidewalk and Crosswalks
to Get Kids Moving
Despite the cold winters, Minnesotans are known across the nation for their willingness to be outdoors and get active year round. Now kids in Minnesota will have more paths to walk and ride on their way to school. With more than 25 organizations involved, the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition (MHKC) advocates for policies that promote healthy eating and physical activity among Minnesota’s children.
Over the last several years, MHKC and their partners in the Minnesota Safe Routes to School coalition have advanced both programs and policies to increase physical activity before and after school, including clarifying liability for shared use agreements, creating a state Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program and securing funding from the Department of Transportation. On May 20th, Governor Dayton signed legislation which included $1 million in bond funding exclusively for SRTS infrastructure programs. In addition, the Governor signed legislation which secured $250,000 for SRTS non-infrastructure programs through the budget process.
The coalition has identified a current unmet need of more than $6 million in requests to ensure adequate sidewalks, crosswalks, signage and other infrastructure is in place to help children walk or bike safely to school each day. With hundreds of schools and communities engaged in planning for SRTS through existing federal grants, the coalition anticipates that the need will continue to grow. These estimates underscore the need to secure additional funding in the future for SRTS.
The Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition spokesperson, Rachel Callanan, applauded the efforts of more than 60 organization and members that came together to see this funding secured. Callanan said, “This literally and metaphorically paves the way for the health of kids across our state. Our kids deserve more than we will spend this year, but we’re pleased with the progress and the commitment to raise the bar on funding each year. Critical coalition partners, some of whom work directly with underserved communities, helped make this funding for safe routes to school a reality, such as the YMCA State Alliance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, and BLEND--CentraCare Health Foundation.”
Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association works to help all young people eat healthier foods and be more active.
Nearly one in three kids and teens are overweight or obese.
We seek to reverse the nation's childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.
Learn more at Voicesforhealthykids.org