April 2-8 is National Public Health Week, a time to reflect on what we can be doing personally each day, and in our homes, communities, schools, states and across the nation to support public health and prevention.
The American Public Health Association (APHA), a partner of the Safe Routes Partnership states that, “Every year, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for millions of premature deaths. Americans miss 2.5 billion days of work because of these illnesses, and all of that lost productivity adds up to more than $1 trillion.”
With the release in 2011 of the National Prevention Strategy, APHA is now working to unite people around the theme of A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement. Check out their toolkit for event planning, media outreach, social media and legislative outreach and consider conducting an event or taking an action to support Safe Routes to School, a school-based program which promotes public health through improved safety and physical activity.
Today, one quarter of health care costs are attributed to obesity, with direct costs for childhood obesity at $14 billion annually. Studies show that children who walk or bike to school are more physically active, lower body mass index scores, lower obesity levels, and are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than students who are driven or bused to schools. Safe Routes to School can be an important part of creating a healthier America.
In addition, there are new resources and programs which are helping communities to become healthier.
- County Health Rankings will be released on April 3, along with an opportunity to apply for prize funding. This collection of 50 reports – one per state – helps community leaders see that where we live, learn, work, and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live.
- The 2012 Roadmaps to Health Community Grants call for proposals is now available, and there will be a webinar for potential applicants on April 10. The grants, which will support two-year state and local efforts among policymakers, business, education, health care, public health and community organizations. Up to 20 coalitions will be awarded grants to create policy or system change to address the social and economic factors that impact the health of people in their community.
American Public Health Week, the County Health Rankings and 2012 Roadmaps to Health provides a great opportunity for Safe Routes to School leaders to get involved with broader community based coalitions that are promoting health and prevention. The Safe Routes Partnership applauds community leaders who are bridging gaps and bringing people, programs and policies together to create a healthier America.