It may be the middle of summer vacation for most kids, but several schools across the state are already planning on creating or enhancing their Safe Routes to School programs for the next school year, thanks to reimbursement grants from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
On June 15, the State Transportation Board approved more than $4.5 million in grant funding for 27 Safe Routes to School projects in schools and communities statewide.
The projects, from easy start-up programs to major infrastructure improvements, are all designed with one simple goal in mind: to encourage kids of all ages to walk or bike to school and develop a healthy lifestyle.
The 27 projects include 12 designated for infrastructure improvements, such as the construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and striping. An additional 15 projects are for non-infrastructure elements, such as providing bike helmets to students, safety education and law enforcement. All of the projects are aimed at getting kids walking or biking more often.
The complete list of grant recipients and their awards for the current funding cycle can be found at www.azdot.gov/srts/SafeRoutes_Common/Funded_Cycle_6.asp.
ADOT’s Safe Routes program also recently awarded reimbursement grants for the very first time to support a project called the Walking School Bus. This involves students and parent volunteers meeting at a designated safe location to walk to school as a group. The grants cover the cost of a Walking School Bus coordinator and stipends for volunteers to assist the coordinator.
Safe Routes to School is instrumental in creating more physical activity opportunities for elementary and middle school students — all designed to reduce the growing risk of childhood obesity and diabetes. Schools, school districts, municipalities, tribal communities and nonprofit organizations are all eligible to apply for reimbursement grants, which are administered by ADOT.
For more information on ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program, information on grant applications, or to view videos featuring the Walking School Bus, visit www.azdot.gov/SRTS.
• Briefs compiled from staff and wire reports