Inter-generational Project: Crooked River Walking School Buses

Through a partnership with AARP-Oregon and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge recipient Crook County Public Health worked with Crooked River Elementary School in Prineville, Oregon. Here’s their exciting success story. 

ISSC_Crook WSB Cheri High-Five

Want to learn more about how to set up a Walking School Bus in your community? Read our guide Step by Step: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School

This spring, Crook County Public Health offered four Walking School Bus routes every Wednesday morning for students of Crooked River Elementary, from spring break to the end of school (a total of 10 weeks). Abby Leibowitz, the AmeriCorps VISTA running the program, did significant outreach to the school community, and found that talking face-to-face with families seemed to be the most effective way of explaining and publicizing the program.

Abby posted fliers throughout town, presented during Senior Center lunches, contacted retired police officers and teachers, encouraged local community leaders to spread the word, and recruited school parents who had previously volunteered. In all, she recruited a total of 8 consistent volunteers and 3 substitute volunteers, 6 of whom were older adults. All volunteers underwent a background check and a one-hour training about the many benefits of walking to school, program logistics, volunteer & participant expectations, and pedestrian safety.

Each week, 15-30 total students participated, and even caught the attention of local media: Crooked River Elementary students who live close to their school may hop on a Walking School Bus once a week.

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Oregon School Wellness Award

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The Oregon Department of Education wants to recognize schools that take their district’s wellness policy and effectively implement the policy to promote student health and academic achievement by presenting an Oregon School Wellness Award.

The schools chosen to receive the Oregon School Wellness Award will receive a cash prize, certificate of recognition, banner, and serve as an example for the entire state.

School Wellness Policies are required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from school districts receiving federally-funded school meals. These School wellness policies, that were established during the 2006-2007 academic year, set goals for school-based activities that promote healthy eating, daily physical activity, and other wellness behaviors. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 strengthened and enhanced the requirements of implementing and evaluating those policies. Individual schools must implement the district policy, but can also go beyond the policy to improve student and staff health.

Supporting kids’ achievements and addressing health issues including physical activity and nutrition can greatly improve their ability to learn. Schools that have recognized the link between health and education and taken action have benefited from more positive and alert students, reduced school absenteeism, and improved student performance and test scores.

Applications are due January 16, 2015 at 5:00pm

All Oregon schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are encouraged to apply. A Blue Ribbon panel will narrow down the school candidates and make recommendation to Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton for a final decision.

Fire Up Your Feet Month Starts Today! Have You Signed Up Yet?

Today marks the first day of the Oregon & SW Washington Fire Up Your Feet Fall Activity Challenge! Are you registered yet? Start by signing up here! We commend you for your dedication to helping support a healthier school environment.

If you’re excited about winning a Fire Up Your Feet Challenge award, then you might want to make use of our new School Standings report. To access the report, click “Activity Tracker” then “School Standings” (located on the left side of the menu bar). Use both the state and the date filter to drill down to activity during the month of October in your region. Once you’re aware of your school’s standing, you may be surprised by how easy it will be for your school to win one or more of our fabulous fall award offerings starting with this week’s Breakout Challenge award:

Breakout Challenge #1 (runs from October 1-7)
Any K-8 school with at least 20 participants that have tracked at least one activity using the coordinator or individual tracker between October 1-7 will be entered into a drawing for one $200 award. Winners will be announced next week. Here are a few helpful hints to increase your school’s chances of winning this and other awards.

  • Want to track an activity for many – even hundreds – of students with just a few clicks? Watch our how-to videos.
  • Want to be sure everyone that counts as a participant? Make sure participants track activity at least once during the Challenge period.
  • Finally, want to cinch the victory? Make sure your school has a minimum of 10 participants by encouraging five parents to register and track, sending flyers home with students, pinning a poster on your school’s bulletin board or inserting a blurb into your school newsletter.

Walk It Out with a Fire Up Your Walk to School Award!
Next Wednesday, October 8, millions of families around the world celebrate International Walk to School Day. Check out our Fire Up Your Walk to School Day tip sheet for ideas to build upon the momentum, and remember that any school with 25 or more walkers tracking their activity this month is eligible for a drawing for a $500 Fire Up Your Walk to School Day award. For inspiration, share this infographic about the benefits of walking and bicycling for kids, your community and the planet.

Best Practices – Steps You Can Take Now to Create a More Walkable Community

courtesy of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)

Who is Winning the Race for Walkable Communities?

Whether you’re just heading out or returning from vacation, chances are the places you go for vacation have certain things in common – you can walk most places most days. In these places you feel safe and experience happiness when you’re walking. Many cities large and small throughout North America are discovering that it just might be possible – and profitable – to emulate our favorite walkable vacation destinations. Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide, but certain metro regions are winning the footrace, according to Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros. “This is an important study underlining the economic power of walkable places, and identifying which metro areas are adding them fastest,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Cities that want to thrive in our new economic and demographic realities will need to find ways to create and support more of these dynamic, productive walkable districts that are in high demand.” Continue reading

Our Testimony on the City of Portland Transportation User Fee

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Yesterday, the City of Portland held a public hearing regarding a proposed Transportation User Fee on households (and businesses) that would be applied toward the growing (and growingly expensive) list of safety and maintenance transportation needs throughout the city.

kids crossing street

I attended the packed hearing and waited, and waited, and waited, along with many other people with many other opinions, for the opportunity to speak up about the importance of this fee, the needed infrastructure improvements it would make possible around schools, and our concerns with how the fee is currently being proposed, with regards to equity, transparency, and accountability. Unfortunately, time ran out before I could speak and I had to depart to go pick up my kids from school (by bike, of course!). Here is what I would have said:

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Oregon’s Healthy Future

Oregon’s Healthy Future, also known as the Statewide Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), was developed through stakeholder and community engagement processes from 2010 and 2012. The vision of Oregon’s Healthy Future is that communities are empowered to improve the lifelong health of all people in Oregon. The current priorities are to improve health equity; prevent and reduce tobacco use; slow the increase of obesity; improve oral health; and reduce substance abuse and other untreated behavioral health issues.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is updating Oregon’s Healthy Future to reflect the needs of key partners and communities throughout the state.

One key way to improve the health of Oregonians is through comprehensive active transportation routes and networks. Active Transportation helps contribute to positive health outcomes by allowing our communities to choose active travel to their destinations — whether that is to school, to work, to the park or to the grocery store. Choice in our transportation system not only allows us the opportunity to be active and reduce obesity, it also provides all members of the community equitable opportunities to safe and healthy transportation options, increasing health equity for everyone. Policies that promote walking and bicycling are critical to economic prosperity, equity and health.

Consider attending a community engagement meeting in the Metro region in June, and contribute to the discussion about what should be involved in Oregon’s Healthy Future Plan.

Multnomah County
Monday June 2, 1:00pm – 3:00pm
800 NE Oregon, PSOB 1B
Portland, OR 97232

Washington County
Monday June 30
more information to come