The American Heart Association of Iowa held their first Legislative Breakfast of 2016 on Wednesday, January 13th at the Iowa State Capitol focusing on the need for a state funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. As a federally-funded program, SRTS provides the financial resources to repair sidewalks, hire crossing guards, and remove the barriers that discourage parents from allowing their students to walk to school. Because Iowa has received limited federal funds, the American Heart Association is encouraging the state legislature to invest $1.8 million to create a state-funded Safe Routes to School program.
Supporters and volunteers from across the state joined the American Heart Association at the Iowa State Capitol to talk with their lawmakers about why they support a state-funded SRTS program due to the health, safety and economic benefits it will provide for all Iowans, and especially children. Supporters were able to talk with approximately 50 Iowa legislators who were in attendance at the breakfast including Senator Liz Mathis, Representative Dave Heaton, Senator Mike Gronstal, Representative Linda Miller, Senator Janet Petersen and Representative Dave Maxwell, who is also a heart disease survivor.
One supporter who came to talk with legislators at the event was Ashley Christensen, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Northeast Iowa. She talked about the health benefits saying, “Children today are not getting enough physical activity which leads to many health issues. And one of the best ways to create more opportunities for our children to be active is through supporting Safe Routes to School.”
There are safety and economic benefits, along with many others, that a SRTS program would provide as well. It would cut down on pedestrian accidents because in areas without sidewalks, children are twice as likely to be struck by a vehicle. And allowing school districts to cut even just one bus route would save a school district $37,000 per year, easing the financial burden on schools already struggling with budget cuts.
To learn more about Safe Routes to School in Iowa the public is encouraged to contact the American Heart Association’s Safe Routes to School Campaign Manager Carrie Mueller at Carrie.Mueller@heart.org or 515-414-3212 or visit www.HealthierIowa.com.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association:
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.