Safe Routes Promotes Healthy Life-Styles For Kids

SILVER BOW COUNTY

POSTED: 6:14 AM Apr 02 2012   UPDATED: 6:24 AM Apr 02 2012
BUTTE, Mont. -

Healthy kids are active kids and Robert Johnson with the PedNet Coalition believes kids today aren't getting the physical activity they need.

?We live in a society now where we basically wake kids up in the morning, we drive them as close to the front door of the elementary school as possible and we tell them to sit down and learn and that's not harmful just for their health, but also academically," Johnson said.

The Safe Routes to School program is an effort to combat that trend by getting kids to walk and bike to school.

One of the ways organizers are working to encourage walking and biking is by working with the non-profit PedNet to start the "Walking School Bus" program.

Where adult volunteers escort kids walking to and from school.

"Parents have a lot of fears stranger danger and traffic danger just to name a couple. So the ?Walking School Bus? is a great way for parents to allow those kids to walk to school, which everyone knows is great physical activity, but not have to worry about safety," Johnson said.

Johnson said schools that have implemented the program have seen an increase in kid's academic performance and a decrease in bad behavior.

Butte's Safe Routes Coordinator Gina Evans, said hearing about their success is inspiring.

"He's up to 180 volunteers a day and 600 kids walking. You know that's pretty awesome and that's Columbia, Missouri so if they can do it Montana can do it," Evans said.

Johnson took the group out not too far from West Elementary School in Butte to teaching everyone what to look out for when creating a safe route to school.

Evans said there?s things to look out for like safe, good sidewalks, visible traffic signs, and even looking out for neighborhood animals, like aggressive dogs.

She said she's received positive support from local elementary schools and thinks the program will work.

"I would like to start small once a week, but have an everyday ?Walking School Bus? for all six schools in Butte," Evans said. All in the effort to promote kids leading active, healthy life-styles.