Categorized | Education, Health

Kids rally Wednesday morning (Jan 11) for ‘Waimea Walking School Bus’

MEDIA RELEASE

Youth rally state wide support for safe routes to school

Wednesday (Jan 11) at 7:15 a.m., kids from East Honolulu to North Hawaii will take to the streets in support of Safe Routes to School in their local neighborhoods. Natalie Iwasa, a.k.a. Bike Mom, will ride five miles with her sons and their friends on the “Bike School Bus” from their home on Lulalilo Home Road to the Honolulu Waldorf School in Hawaii Kai. Down the island chain, children and parents of the weekly “Waimea Walking School Bus” will gather at the South Kohala police station to begin their one mile walk to Waimea Elementary School.

The kids are helping to kick off interest in the first-ever Hawaii Safe Routes to School Summit: A Gateway to Healthier, Happier Hawaii Communities scheduled for Friday, January 20th at Kapiolani Community College on the island of O’ahu, hosted by the Big Island based PATH – Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii with support from Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Kauai Team, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Hawaii Department of Health.

The deadline to register for the Summit is Wednesday, January 17th and the Bike Train and Walking School Bus are out to rally support to attend this important event. To register, call 808-326-7284 or send an email to saferoutes@pathhawaii.org.

The Summit will gather national experts, local advocates and statewide policy makers together to implement solutions that restore a child’s most basic right to walk and bike in their neighborhood. The Summit will open with remarks by Lt. Governor Brian Schatz and feature a keynote address by national Safe Routes to School pioneer Deborah Hubsmith of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership as well as a report by Hawaii Department of Transportation Highways Administrator Alvin Takeshita, P.E. recent successes in the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program.

Fewer than 10% of the estimated 220,000 children who go to school daily in Hawaii walk or bike to school, down from a national average of over 50% in 1969. That decline is part of a growing trend of inactivity and resulting poor health status suffered by children in Hawaii. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, nearly one in three students enters Kindergarten in Hawaii either overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. By 4th grade, two-thirds of the students are not getting enough daily physical activity. That number jumps to 70% in middle and high school.

The walk and bike to school offers many benefits, including daily physical activity, a chance to socialize with friends, the opportunity to develop independence, responsibility and heightened safety skills. Children arrive to school alert and ready to learn. And by reducing the number of vehicles choking roadways during the busy arrival and departure times, roadway safety and congestion improve.

Bike Mom has been a champion of walking and bicycling for more than 20 years. She and her boys ride to school three days a week on the Bike School Bus. The Waimea Walking School Bus that began three years ago with only a handful of students walking once every four months to school has grown to a weekly event with two routes and more than 25 kids walking to school.

Both events provide an opportunity to see Safe Routes to School in action, talk with kids about how it feels to walk and bike to school, and hear from the parents, advocates and policymakers about the solutions Safe Routes to School provides to our local challenges in advance of the Summit on January 20th.

For more information on the Summit, to request interviews, or to take part in the Bike Train or Walking School Bus events, please contact Laura Dierenfield at 936-4653 or email: laura@pathhawaii.org

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