There is something big… giant …GIGANTIC happening for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) efforts across Iowa. The American Heart Association is teaming up with SRTS champions across the state through the Healthier Iowa Coalition to encourage the state legislature to invest $1.5 million in a state-funded SRTS program. This. Is. HUGE.
This means that a fund would be created to support SRTS projects—and SRTS projects alone—across the state, both infrastructure (sidewalks and crosswalks) and non-infrastructure (Walking School Buses and safety education).
Dedicated federal funding for SRTS was cut in 2012. This negatively impacted SRTS efforts across the country, especially in Iowa. Iowa depended on these dedicated federal funds to support SRTS projects within the state. With no more dedicated federal SRTS dollars coming to Iowa, SRTS projects were tacked onto another funding stream where they must compete for grants against environmental management projects, scenic byway projects, historic preservation projects and even trail projects sadly enough. (Is it even possible for grant reviewers to fairly compare a crossing guard project or Walking School Bus project to a wastewater run-off project or a habitat restoration project…??)
However, if we can encourage the state legislature to invest in a state-funded program, we would bring back dedicated SRTS funding to Iowa. Funding to support projects that make routes to school and other community locations safer and more accessible…projects that save lives through safety education…projects that positively impact the health, academic performance, behavior and self-esteem of students…projects that provide social interaction, quality of life and daily purpose to adults…projects that reduce air pollution…projects that benefit the economy…projects that invest in a vibrant and sustainable future…projects that help our students, our families, our neighbors, our schools, our communities, OUR IOWA!
In order to make this push within the state legislature a success, we need the support of our fellow Iowans. Please show your support for a state-funded SRTS program for Iowa by clicking here. SRTS is not just for students and schools. SRTS benefits the whole community and is for EVERYONE, including you.