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A Requirement for Six Semesters of Physical Activity at Middle Schools in Texas



In February of 2013, Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) filed SB 525, a bill that would increase physical activity requirements for middle school students (grades 6-8th). Students would be required to take six semesters of physical activity rather than the current requirement of only four semesters. Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) filed a companion bill HB 277, which includes the same provisions as SB 525. The bills, which would increase physical education requirements for students and require at least 30 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity, 135 minutes per week, or (if the district uses block scheduling) 225 minutes of bi-weekly physical activity, failed to pass during the 2013 Legislative ...

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A Program to Recognize Texas Public Schools With Successful Health and Fitness Programs



At the 2013 Texas Legislature, Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) introduced SB 65, as a way to recognize schools for creating a healthy environment. If this bill were to be enacted schools would be recognized with a bronze, silver, or gold, award according to the success of their school's fitness program. Private and non-profit entities would be allowed to provide donations and incentives to schools that receive healthy school recognition. According to the Texas Legislature Online, SB 65 was referred to public education and no action was taken in committee. Read the full text to SB 65, which would have provided recognition to schools with a healthy school ...

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Addressing Food Deserts in Tennessee



Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell is helping a group address the lack of access to healthy foods in low-income Tennessee areas. On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, Rep. Harwell led representatives of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce on a walk from Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville to a local urban market to illustrate the difficulties Tennesseans living in food deserts have buying healthy ...

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Advocates Save an Urban Garden in Cincinnati



The Eco Garden is a community-supported agriculture operation run by neighborhood youth for low-income families. It’s an agricultural oasis in a Cincinnati neighborhood better known for its crime than its carrots. Angela Stanbery-Ebner and her husband Luke got involved the educational programs offered at the Eco Garden in 2004, fresh out of art school at the University of Cincinnati. Six years later, when the nonprofit managing the garden folded, the couple took over, rolling it into their own nonprofit called Permaganic. Out went the emails, an online petition, and calls to the city council in an effort to save one of the most vibrant corners of a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood. Unfortunately for the Eco Garden, it doesn’t own the land on which it sits, the city does. This ...

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A Petition to Stop Nickelodeon from Advertising Junk Food to Children



"Nickelodeon is the largest entertainment company for kids. It markets and advertises food to children through television, its websites, games, toy giveaways with fast-food meals, and the use of its characters to promote foods," according to The Food Marketing Workgroup.  Between 2005 and 2009 approximately 79% of the ads aired on Nickelodeon featured foods of a poor nutritional value. Nickelodeon, a popular TV channel that airs programming for children, continues to allow food producers to advertise junk food to children. Because the advertisements that children see on TV can have such a strong influence, Viacom and Nickelodeon have been asked to increase their nutrition standards for foods advertised to children. The Food Marketing Workgroup, which is a network of more than 125 ...

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Senate Approves Complete Streets Policy for West Virginia



In West Virginia, a Complete Streets policy recently made its way through the Senate, and will now be reviewed by the House. This legislation would encourage rather than mandate the West Virginia Division of Highways to design roads that would meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists alike.  It would also create a 16-member Complete Streets Advisory Board that would make project recommendations to the state transportation board and oversee implementation. According to this news article from The State Journal, similar legislation was brought before the Senate in 2012, but failed. Now the policy will move on to the House for ...

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GDOT Adopts Complete Streets & Paves the Way for Bike Lanes



Months of hard work finally paid off when Joe Seconder and other cyclists found out that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) would be including bike lanes on a new bridge. Plans for the bridge which originally excluded bike lanes were developed before the GDOT adopted a Complete Streets policy. Seconder and others made the case for bike lanes and ultimately convinced the state transportation department to include these lanes on the bridge. With the addition of bike lanes bikers of all ages and backgrounds will now have an alternative means of transportation from one area of the city to another. This Georgia Bikes blog recounts the story of how bike advocates pushed for the development of a Complete Streets Policy in Georgia. Interestingly, some officials working with the ...

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A New Bridge Will Provide Children from Houston’s Fifth Ward with a Safer Route to School



According to a press release from the City of Houston, a new bridge will provide children and residents living in Houston's Fifth Ward with a safer transportation route. The bridge will prevent children from having to walk over dangerous railroad tracks, where trains make frequent stops and block the crossing area. A public meeting was scheduled for April 2, 2013, to allow the general public to provide input on the proposed project, which will require the city of Houston to acquire two parcels of land. The bridge, which is expected to cost $1.3 million to construct, will be developed through a partnership that involves the City of Houston, the Gulf Coast Rail District, and TxDOT. According to this news article from the Houston Chronicle, construction on the bridge is scheduled to begin ...

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A Permanent Farmers’ Market in Austin?



The City of Austin, TX is thinking about helping to create a permanent farmers' market that would operate seven days a week. It was the first recommendation in a recent report produced for the city by Texas Perspectives, a local economic analysis and consulting firm. Having a year-round farmers' market open every day would make farm fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible to Austin residents and visitors alike. Listen to the radio story or read more about ...

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