North Minneapolis Schools Kick Off Safe Routes to School Program
Effort seeks to build community and increase physical activity by encouraging safe biking and walking to school
May 15, 2008 (MINNEAPOLIS) – Mayor R.T. Rybak this week joined Minneapolis parents, students, faculty and community members to celebrate their commitment to a more unified community and safer ways to walk and bike to school. Nellie Stone Johnson Elementary and Lucy Laney Elementary, located in North Minneapolis, have been selected as pilot communities in Minnesota as part of the national Safe Routes to School initiative.
"We are always interested in encouraging an environment that positions our students and parents to thrive in a strong community, both inside and outside of the school," said Mark Bonine, Principal at Nellie Stone Johnson Elementary. "Minneapolis children are already walking to school," he added. About 20 percent of Minneapolis’ students live within the walk zone. Bonine believes there is potential for more as we improve conditions and provide adult support. "We see Safe Routes as a great tool to improve safety, build community and engage families in the school networks" said Bonine.
The Safe Routes to School is a federal initiative aimed at encouraging children to walk or bike to school by providing safer, healthier and more appealing transportation alternatives. The other goal of the program is to facilitate planning and implementation of projects to improve safety while reducing traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has chosen four communities throughout the state to participate. The city of Minneapolis has been an early leader in supporting this program.
"The Safe Routes to School initiative promotes a more efficient, sustainable and safer way for children to travel to school," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "I think this is a fantastic way for many communities, including those surrounding Nellie Stone Johnson and Lucy Laney, to continue to build a strong sense of togetherness."
Along with federal grants received for the program, Minneapolis Public Schools and the city of Minneapolis through its Department of Health and Family Support are providing $1,000 mini-grants for SRTS projects. The grants are intended to give schools the opportunity to try new strategies and to see what works best for their communities.
In North Minneapolis, parents and school administrators are excited about helping to build a stronger and safer community for kids to walk and bike to school. The SRTS program will help increase police presence in areas surrounding Nellie Stone Johnson and Lucy Laney.
"We are extremely grateful for the help that the Minneapolis Police Department is providing through this program," said Craig Vana, Minneapolis Associate Superintendent for emergency response and crisis management. "Getting kids to and from school safely is obviously a primary objective for everyone, and this important partnership between the city, police department and school district will simply provide more emphasis to this important goal."
Lucy Laney Elementary will be hosting the Safe Routes to School event the same afternoon, from 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Lucy Laney is located at 3333 Penn Ave. N..
Published May. 15, 2008