Get Healthy Carson City: Nevada Moves Day is on its way

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

Do you like to move it, move it? Kids across Nevada sure do! That’s why, one week from today, schoolchildren from Carson City and Douglas and Lyon counties will join others across the state to step, pedal, and scooter their way to school as part of the 7th annual Nevada Moves Day. Kids who arrive at participating schools on foot, by bike or by scooter on Wednesday, March 16, are going to receive a prize.

The event is sponsored locally by the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program, which encourages students to walk or bike to school, practice safe walking and biking habits, and be physically active.

Statewide, the Nevada Department of Transportation provides support for the program with the goal of encouraging active transportation instead of being dropped off in cars. Walking or biking to school can lessen up to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic that results from children being driven to school.

While Nevada Moves Day is a great way to build support for walking and bicycling to school, the Safe Routes to School program is active all year long.

The goal of the program is to show kids and families active transportation, like walking and biking, 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 are going to 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. She continued, “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 help mitigate disciplinary issues.

During Nevada Moves Week and every day, drivers should watch for children walking and bicycling to school and be mindful of reduced speeds and varying school start times in school zones. Motorists also should only pass bicyclists when it’s safe — with at least three feet of space between the bicycle and vehicle — and never overtake a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians. Pedestrians and bicyclists should only cross streets when safe, and look both ways before and while crossing. Safe Routes to School provides education to students about safety, and reaches out to parents and drivers as well. Keeping our region’s streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians is everyone’s job.

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