Get Healthy: Nevada Moves Day is next week

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Next Wednesday, schoolchildren across Nevada will step, pedal and scoot their way to school as part of the sixth annual Nevada Moves Day. Conceived in 2010 as a way to help students learn about bicycle and pedestrian safety and raise awareness in communities, the event has grown statewide. This year, 19 schools in Carson City, Lyon and Douglas counties will participate.

The event is sponsored locally by the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program, which works to combine education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation strategies to help students walk or bike to school instead of being dropped off in cars.

Statewide, the Nevada Department of Transportation provides support for the program. Kids who arrive at participating schools on foot, by bike or by scooter next Wednesday are going to receive a prize.

However, the prize is simply a bonus. The real reward for many kids is the fun of spending time with friends or family during the morning commute and developing lifelong healthy habits. The goal of the program is to show kids and families active transportation is a good, and realistic choice for many families. The time in the morning walking to and from school allows kids to have fun with friends, get some exercise, and practice good traffic safety habits they need as they become adults. Families are encouraged to walk, not just on Nevada Moves Day, but every day.

“There are great benefits to choosing active transportation as a way to get to and from school,” said Nicki Aaker, director of Carson City Health and Human Services, which houses Western Nevada Safe Routes to School. “Walking or biking to school helps ensure that kids are getting the physical activity they need to stay healthy.”

Additionally, studies suggest active transportation — like walking and biking — doesn’t just fire up kids’ feet, it gets their brains going, too. Evidence suggests participating in a program like Safe Routes to School can help students perform better academically and can help mitigate disciplinary issues.

Safe Routes to School provides education to students about safety, and reaches out to parents and drivers as well. Keeping our city’s streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians is everyone’s job. Next Wednesday and every day, please be on the lookout for young pedestrians making their way to and from school.

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