In February of this year, President Obama took the first step to establish a task force on child obesity. This move came in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign which seeks to provide parents with information on healthy food and exercise choices for their children. Here on at home, Culver City is taking part in the Safe Routes to School Program to help provide children with safe routes to walk and bike to school.
Nearly one third of American children are currently obese. Chronic obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma will have serious impacts on the nation’s health care system in the years to come.
According to the Center for Disease Control children need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. One of easiest ways to increase the amount of exercise that children get is for them to walk and bike to school. Thirty one percent of children live within one mile of school according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. A one mile walk provides 20 minutes of exercise each direction, meaning these students could accomplish 2/3 of their daily exercise requirements simply by walking or biking to school.
Trends in walking and biking to school have decreased dramatically over the past forty years. According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), only 38 percent of students currently walk or bike to school compared with 88 percent in 1969.
There is encouraging news. A recent release by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership shows that the downward trend in walking and biking is stabilizing, meaning we are beginning to turn the tide. According to the 2009 NHTS, over the past 15 years the percent of five through 14-year olds walking and bicycling to school in the U.S. has remained around 12 percent.
Culver City is doing its part to capture its share of the state and/or federal funding available through the Safe Routes to School Program. Culver City is currently creating a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to encourage and improve walking and biking in our city. As part of the Culver City Bicycle and Pedestrian Initiative, the City of Culver City and Linwood E. Howe Elementary School hosted a Safe Routes to School Workshop on April 14th to involve the community in the planning process and to create the collaboration needed to improve walking and biking conditions for Culver City’s children.
For further information and ways to get involved, please contact John Rivera at (310) 253-5616.