June 1, 2015
Seattle School Nurses Association voted unanimously to support additional funding for Safe Routes to School in the Move Seattle Levy. Anne Fote, RN spoke eloquently about walking to school and her experiences at Rainier Beach High School and Hamilton International Middle School in this meeting of the City Council Select Committee On Transportation Funding.
Here is Anne’s complete testimony:
My name is Anne Fote. I am a registered nurse. I currently work at Hamilton International Middle School. Previous to that I was the nurse at Rainier Beach High School.
First of all, I am pleased to let you know that the Seattle School Nurses Association voted unanimously this Tuesday on a resolution supporting an increase for Safe Routes to School funding as part of the Move Seattle Levy. I was at the meeting where we voted on this resolution. The only question we debated was whether it was right to just recommend Safe Routes to School for elementary students. Our school nurses union decided that walking to school safely is equally important for middle school and high school students — and so that is what our resolution says.
I’ll give you a copy, but let me read a bit. We want to “increase in Safe Routes to School Funding over the nine year levy period from $7 million to $38 million, and support the focus of additional money first on the City’s poorest schools, where children who live within the ‘walk zones’ without school bus service often have the fewest transportation options.”
As a health professional, I think walking is a great way to start each day. I’ve also seen walking be a great way for children to make friends. I see children getting to know each other in a healthy way as they walk to my school in the morning.
Unfortunately the walk to school is very stressful when it could be a time for learning, getting exercise, and making friends.
While I was at Rainier Beach, I was called over to evaluate a little boy who had been in a hit and run collision. The boy picked himself up and continued walking to school. We took him in to be evaluated for concussion and internal injuries. This was a very young child, no more than 8, who was one of the many children who walked alone to South Shore Elementary in Rainier Beach.
Elementary school children walk up to a mile to school, middle school and high schoolers walk up 2 miles, often in the dark, across very busy streets and along roads without much in the way of sidewalks or lights.
A few Hamilton kids have been hit by drivers since I’ve been the nurse there. Two girls were hit by a Hamilton parent. It is kind of a vicious circle. Parents wouldn’t be driving their kids to school if they felt the streets were safer for walking. And the streets are less safe because so many parents are driving our 55,000 Seattle Public School students to school.
We need safer streets thoughout our school walk zones, for so many good reasons. I encourage you to find funding to support this basic need to get our children to school safely.
Anne Fote, RN BSN Member National Association of School Nurses, School Nurse Association of Washington, Seattle School Nurses Association, and Washington Education Association