SAN JOSE (KCBS)— Schools are in a constant battle to get more students to walk to school in an effort to improve their overall health.
County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said getting more students to walk is important considering high childhood obesity rates in the community.
“A quarter of the kids are obese, not to mention the adults. We want to get them off their computers and get them out there like they should be, playing. They spend a lot of time going and coming from school so we want them to be walking, not driving,” he said.
KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:
Thanks to a federal grant, one San Jose school was able to fly in a public health, transportation and planning advocate to assess the situation.
Walking advocate Mark Fenton looked at conditions around Washington Elementary just south of the city’s downtown and he liked some of what he saw, including sidewalks on most streets.
“It’s a fairly compact neighborhood and there’s a nice mix of destinations. You’ve got a school, but nearby you’ve got stores and markets and residential clusters,” he said.
He also noted that the distances aren’t that great and that, in minutes, somebody could walk to a corner store or to a laundromat.
But he did take issue with many of the one-way streets on the school’s south side, assuming that traffic moved pretty quickly.
“It’s several lanes across. I don’t know that I’d want a 10-year-old trying to cross that without adult supervision,” Fenton said.
That was one of the reasons one parent, Brian Carson, doesn’t let his 10-year-old daughter walk to school.
“People driving really fast down the street. (There are) stray dogs lurking, child predators – normal things like that,” he said.
Fenstersheib concluded that many of these children will develop chronic diseases like diabetes later in life if they don’t drop the weight now.
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