Program aims to get more kids walking, biking to school - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls program aims to get more kids walking, biking to school

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

The Black Hawk County Health Department is partnering with the Cedar Falls School District to launch the Safe Routes to Schools program.  The "I-Walk" project is getting underway at Lincoln Elementary.  The goal is to get more kids walking and biking to class. 

Romney Hall and her son Harrison have a daily routine of walking to school.

"I just know how healthy it is for our bodies and I think the kids have a lot of fun walking together, and it connects us as a community," Hall said.

But the Halls are one of just a handful of families at Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls that opt not to drive their kids to class or send them on the bus.

"There's an impression, perception that it's not safe to walk or bike to school.  So we hope to change that," said Peter Camilli, systems analyst with the Black Hawk County Health Department.

That's where the Safe Routes to Schools I-Walk program comes in.  Next week, volunteers will walk routes a half-mile around the school, looking out for potential problems that might be a barrier for families to try walking or biking to school.  Those barriers could range from overgrown shrubs to bad sidewalks. Once those issues are identified, plans will be made to fix them.

"By making it safer for children to walk and bike to school, it's hoped that more will," said Camilli.

And in addition to the physical benefits from walking to school, there are perks in the classroom too.

"There are studies that show being more fit, kids that are more fit, do better at school," Camilli said.

That's just another reason Romney Hall hopes the Safe Routes program is a success.

"I think walking, if we can support that, and get more people walking, the better off we'll be," Hall said.

After volunteers map routes around the school next week, that information will be given to staff at Iowa State Extension and the Iowa Department of Public Health.  They'll analyze it to come up with ideal walking routes and improvements that can be made.

Suggestions for creating the safest routes to school will then be present to Lincoln Elementary families in June.

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