Sports Advocate Opens the Gates for Families to Play at School Parks



George Block has fought for children for a long time. When Block saw disadvantaged kids not able to swim at local pools in the 1970s in San Antonio (63% Latino population), he fought for a new aquatic center that would provide free swim programs for them. When Block jogged through a low-income neighborhood and heard Mexican soccer games blaring from homes, but low youth soccer participation in the 1980s, he drove changes to enable more play. He even helped launch San Antonio Sports, a foundation that builds new sports facilities and spurs school facilities to open publicly. So…what did Block and his team do in 2016 when he saw many San Antonio families not using these facilities to capacity? He stepped up again and created a literal “gateway” to promote family use of ...

Read More

City Leader Rey Saldaña Helps At-Risk Latinos Learn to Swim



When he was a kid, Rey Saldaña couldn’t swim. His family couldn’t afford lessons. So Saldaña was a little scared as he and his second-grade classmates walked into a chlorine-smelling aquatic center to learn how to swim as part of a federally funded program in San Antonio, Texas (63.34% Latino). He overcame his fear and learned to swim, thanks to that “Learn to Swim” program. Sadly, the program folded before his younger brother could participate. When Saldaña became a member of the San Antonio City Council many years later, he helped recreate the Learn to Swim program to reduce drowning and build kids’ confidence. He didn’t stop there. Saldaña worked with others to on two big projects—renovating an aquatic center and building a new one—that could ...

Read More

Math Teachers Use Local Stories About Transportation in New K-5 Booklet



Math often gets a bad rap in schools. But what if students could count bikes and buses, and solve word problems about local bike lanes and bus routes? That is what's happening in Santa Monica, Calif. (18.1% Latino)—elementary students get "Math in My World" booklets with problems involving how people stay active and move around their community, like walking, biking, skating, scootering, and public transit. The booklets launched December 2017 by the city's Safe Routes to School program. "So instead of showing a six-year-old the somewhat-abstract idea that 2+1=3, they learn that Grace has 2 scooters and Sam has 1 scooter and together they have 3," wrote Jack Moreau, a transit official for the City of Santa Monica. All kids benefit of course, but this could help students ...

Read More

Apply For 6-Month Walking College


BonnieArbittier_crummy_crappy_streets_construction_needs_help_east_side_dawson_palmetto_8-09-2017-4-1170x780

How do you feel when you walk? Most of us would walk more if we had safe places. Are you willing to commit 5-10 hours/per week for 6 months to learn how to make your community more walkable? America Walks invites you to apply for a 2018 Walking College Fellowship to gain the skills and knowledge you will need to build the walking movement in your community. UPDATE: Deadline has been extended to March 2nd at 8pm Eastern.  Why Walkability Matters Walking is a valid way to improve your health. It is also a valid form of transportation. However, many Latino families don't have safe places to walk, thus they face disparities in health and traffic fatalities and are isolated from the places they need to go. Latinos make up 16.9% of the population, yet account for 21.5% of ...

Read More

Best of Complete Streets about to Get Better



In light of traffic deaths, traffic jams, and pollution, many U.S. cities are working to make their streets safer. However, street improvements often occur in white, wealthy neighborhoods. This does little to help the people most impacted by disparities in mobility and air quality—low-income people, Latinos and other minorities, and people older than 65. How can we tell if street projects are benefiting everyone equitably? Fortunately, the National Complete Streets Coalition of Smart Growth America grades "Complete Streets" projects—where streets are designed for drivers, transit users, people walking, and people biking, regardless of age or ability—and publishes a Best Complete Streets Policies Report. But they haven't updated their 100-point grading system since ...

Read More

Webinar: Turning Data Into Walking Action



Map, track, and evaluate. These words are music in public health nerd's ears. Especially for walking nerds, America Walks is hosting a webinar to help public health advocates turn data into action to improve walkability across the United States at 2 p.m. EST Dec. 13, 2017. Why Connect Health and Walking Advocates? Decades of inequity in investment in streets, sidewalks and communities has disproportionately burdened Latino and many communities with health disparities, traffic fatalities, and even criminal citations for jay-walking. Many health advocates lack adequate data or the ability to use data to make the case for environmental, systems, or policy changes. Particularly when it comes to walking and walkability because, traditionally, non-health departments and ...

Read More

Outdoor Learning Environments Soon Available in TX



Texas (39.1% Latino population) is launching five Outdoor Learning Environment demonstration sites across the state, three of which are at early childcare centers. This is great news for many Latino students across the state. Currently, children today can spend 8-10 hours a day in childcare. However, like many Latino-majority schools, childcare facilities offer less time for kids to play and be active. As early as age four, Latino children face gaps in academic performance and disparities in obesity. Latino kids need safe places to play and be active to reduce obesity and boost academic achievement. Naturalize Outdoor Playgrounds Play – particularly play in nature – is critical for healthy child development. Nature supports creative problem solving, enhances cognitive ...

Read More

Open Ciclismo: Crowdsourced Map of Biking in San Antonio



You can share the best—or worst—places to bike in San Antonio, thanks to a new bilingual crowdsourced map. The Open Ciclismo map, launched in October 2017 in English and Spanish by the local online news source the Rivard Report and Bike San Antonio, enables people to identify biking problems, issues, and solutions across San Antonio (63.7% Latino). You can report a public dangerous intersection, suggest a bicycling improvement, or share safe places to ride. Just indicate the location, add a description, and upload or share a video. "By crowdsourcing this data and riders’ experiences, we aim to create up-to-date awareness of hotspots for cycling safety, crime, and infrastructure improvements—holding city officials accountable for safe cycling and pedestrian life in San ...

Read More

2017 Community Change Micro Grants Opportunity



Many families aren't as active as they would like to be because they lack safe places to walk, bike and play. In fact, the U.S. is failing five of nine factors that reflect walking and walkable communities. Latinos in particular face barriers to walk, which negatively impacts physical and mental health, as well as economic prosperity. Are you interested in helping to make walking more commonplace for families in your community? Micro Grants; America Walks is hosting a round of micro grants for up to $1500 to fund or start smaller-scale, low-cost projects and programs. The goal is to increase the prevalence of walking, expand the diversity of people and organizations working to advance walkability, and help to make walking safer, easier, and more fun for all community ...

Read More