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Students at risk for inactivity overcome barriers to active lifestyles
This blog post is one in a series of stories featuring some of the great things happening in suburban Chicago communities. The stories will focus on Chicagoland communities that are on the forefront of the movement to encourage healthy, active transportation like walking, biking and public transit.
These are communities Active Trans had the privilege to work with as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, a federally-funded program aimed at creating healthier and more active lifestyles throughout the nation.
East Maine School District 63 is not your typical district. A linguistically and culturally diverse community of learners attend six elementary schools and one junior high located in five suburban municipalities. With so many public entities involved, planning and policy solutions involving changes to infrastructure are a major challenge.
Four of the schools lie in densely populated areas containing many apartment complexes. Limited green space for play keeps many kids inside, and roadways with heavy car traffic and limited safe road access deter outdoor recreation. Limited adult supervision and limited resources are additional factors that decrease physical activity among district students.
The District 63 Education Foundation is a non-profit organization comprised of local business, school, government, and community leaders. Its goal is to help sustain and support the district’s community education branch, known as the Total Learning Community (TLC). Through programs available to students and parents outside the regular school day, TLC promotes biking and walking as transportation choices.
The Active Transportation Alliance partnered with TLC to launch the successful “Walk ‘N Roll” program, which lead to the creation of new school travel plans, marking safe routes, and establishing Walking School Buses in the district. The “Walk Across Illinois” school fitness program is also helping students understand the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety.
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