Going Back to School in California - Getting to Know Partners Around the State

Jeanie Ward-WallerIt’s back to school time! Time for new experiences, teachers, friends, classrooms, subjects and maybe even shiny new Safe Routes to School infrastructure projects. In my second month as the California advocacy organizer, I am undertaking my own version of a back-to-school adventure learning about exciting programs and policies. And I get to meet our amazing network of partners across the state! Here are some of my new friends:

Caltrans

I have the opportunity to work closely with Dawn Foster, Caltrans Safe Routes to School Coordinator, by helping facilitate and improve the process of funding and encouraging delivery of great Safe Routes to School projects. Caltrans’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan has lots of goals for safety improvements. I joined this effort by serving on committees that target action on pedestrian and bicycle safety and Safe Routes to School. During uncertain times for transportation programs around the country, it is reassuring to see Caltrans supporting what is near and dear to us from many angles.

California Department of Public Health/UCSF – Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center (TARC)

The TARC staff quickly became new friends of mine as I helped them collect data and stories from many successful Safe Routes to School projects around the state. TARC provides a valuable resource for training and guidance on current projects and to future grantees, and are teaching me a lot also. Look for the release of our success stories very soon!

Health in All Policies Task Force

Other new friends include the staff of the Health in All Policies Task Force (HiAP), established by California’s Strategic Growth Council. The HiAP Task Force represents 19 state agencies to ensure that health is always a consideration in setting policy, and the goals of the task force overlap the National Partnership’s policy priorities for healthy and safe communities and school environments.

Safe Routes to School Awardees

While working with TARC to gather the project success stories, I also spoke to a number of Safe Routes to School grantees with local agencies and non-profits. They are making projects happen in communities statewide. I was inspired by their dedication to improving access to physical activity opportunities and encouraging kids and families to take advantage of those benefits.

These highlights represent only a slice of the ongoing work for Safe Routes to School and partners that I’ve met around the state. Keep an eye out for more partner highlights in future posts. I’m excited to continue learning from and working with all of our partners as I go back to school myself in California!

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