The Monterey County Health Department has received $375,000 as part of a Safe Routes to School grant from the California Department of Public Health’s Kids’ Plate program. The Safe Routes to School grant will bring pedestrian and bike education to schools as well as traffic enforcement around the schools and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The 21-month long grant begins on March 1, and will benefit Ord Terrace Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Highland Elementary, Del Rey Oaks Elementary, and Marina Vista Elementary.
While a large majority of students live within one mile of their schools, many of the parents still drive their children to school. This reduces the exercise a child gets and increases traffic around the schools.
The lack of exercise may contribute to the high childhood obesity rates in Seaside, which is at 46 percent, the third worst in Monterey County. Furthermore, driving children to school causes major traffic congestion around schools in the mornings and afternoons.
A unique feature of the grant is having the children practice with a mock town brought to their school. As part of the mock town, students will work with pretend traffic situations such as cars backing up in driveways and/ or drivers who are distracted, and learn to recognize these problems and how to protect themselves.