This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday 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 tomorrow, March 15, schoolchildren, teachers, parents and administrators from our region will join others across the state to walk, pedal, and scooter their way to school as part of the 8th annual Nevada Moves Day.
The event is sponsored locally by the Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program, which encourages students 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 walking and biking to school, which results in safer streets, cleaner air, and less traffic congestion around schools. Studies have shown that walking or biking to school can reduce traffic around schools up to 25 percent.
This year, Western Nevada Safe Routes to School is pleased to introduce a new initiative to involve kids in community civics, promote the arts, and start a community conversation around active transportation. As part of the Nevada Moves PhotoVoice project, middle school students in Carson City are invited take photographs of their walk to school and submit them into the NV Moves PhotoVoice Competition, sponsored by Nevada Photo Source. The photos will be shared on social media to draw attention to what is enjoyable about active transportation and to show what barriers kids in our community face that prevent walking and biking. Additionally, the photos and feedback from the project will be included in the upcoming Community Health Assessment being conducted by Carson City Health and Human Services.
To participate in PhotoVoice, middle school students should take photos of their walk to school and share them, including a caption explaining the photo, on Instagram or Facebook using #NVMoves17 and #GetHealthyCarsonCity. “This is a great opportunity for youth to get involved in community-level advocacy. We want them to know their voice matters, and we want to hear from them,” said Valerie Cauhape, who is leading the Community Health Assessment for Carson City Health and Human Services.
While NV 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 that walking and biking are within reach. Walking to and from school allows kids to have fun with friends, get some exercise, and practice good traffic safety habits. Families are encouraged to walk or bike, not just on Nevada Moves Day, but every day.
Automobile users should always watch for children walking and bicycling to and from school and be mindful of reduced speeds in school zones. As a reminder to drivers, no U-turns are allowed in active school zones, and no parking is allowed within 20 feet of any marked crosswalk. Any time you are behind the wheel, put your cell phone or other distractions aside.
Schools and youth organizations who are interested in promoting bicycle and pedestrian safety should contact Western Nevada Safe Routes to Schools at 283-7525 to learn more about the services they provide, including helmet distributions and bike safety classes. For information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.