New Kid on the Block
My name is Christy Smith and I am the newest advocacy organizer for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership in the State of Tennessee. Prior to coming to the National Partnership I worked as a public health educator where I taught people of all ages and stages of life how to safely walk, ride and drive. I’ve also worked for the nonprofit organizations The Boys & Girls Clubs and the Y, two agencies that share a passion with the National Partnership for working with people from all socio-economic backgrounds. I believe that being safe and healthy is something that everyone deserves--no matter where they live, work and play.
I took for granted, growing up, that I could walk safely in my neighborhood. I rode my bicycle to elementary school and my parents did not worry about me being safe. In high school I used my bicycle as my main form of transportation, even riding my bicycle to my driver’s education classes. I took my bicycle and fearlessness about riding with me to college where I preferred to get around campus on foot or bicycle. I liked the freedom that self-powered transportation gave me. It meant I could come and go at my own pace. I even chose a major in a field that is focused on health: Exercise Science.
Once out in the “real world” I learned that not everyone grew up with that same sense of safety that I did. I also learned not everyone had the opportunity to be physically active whenever they wanted. At the Y I taught youth sports in programs that had scholarships for those that couldn’t otherwise afford to pay. At the Boys & Girls Clubs I started a “girls only” gym time so the young women in the Club wouldn’t be uncomfortable enjoying the same activities the boys did. Meanwhile, I continued to use the bicycle as a form of transportation and aimed to set an example for others taking my daughter everywhere I went with the bike trailer and jogging stroller.
Today I am excited that I get to apply my lifelong passion and experience to help others in our state to have a similar story as mine; one that includes safely walking to school or riding whenever they want. I can’t wait to see what the key players in our state will do as we work together to leverage and obligate funding for active transportation, promote complete streets and advance joint use policies. You can contact me at email@example.com to join the Tennessee network.