Pleasantview Students attend Legionville

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Legionville 2014_2

Over the past two weeks 20 students from Pleasantview Elementary in Sauk Rapids, MN have attended the Legionville Crossing Guard Camp near Brainerd, MN as part of a Safe Routes to School Grant, BLEND and the CentraCare Health Foundation. This fall,  Pleasantview will have new sidewalks surrounding it as part of a MnDOT infrastructure grant and with it will come a new student run Safety Patrol!  We are proud of these students for leading this important safety effort in Sauk Rapids. Way to go!

Below is Caleb Euteneuer and he share’s his experience from Legionville. Caleb is a 5th grader at Pleasantview Elementary.

Caleb writes…

Legionville 2014“I had a fun time at Legionville!  Each day we had classes about pedestrian safety, first aid, canoeing, and swimming. I enjoyed learning about pedestrian safety and first aid. Now I know how to use a flag to help other students cross the street safely.”

Legionville 2014_3“If someone gets hurt I know first aid so that I can help them.  We also had time to play with friends and go to the canteen.  Some other recreational activities that we played were softball, soccer, and kickball.”

LegionvilleIt was fun to have my friends staying in my cabin but it was good to make new friends from other cities.  I am looking forward to becoming part of the Safety Patrol at Pleasantview Elementary this fall.”

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to visit the Safe Routes to School page on the BLEND website to learn more about my work to grow the Safe Routes to School initiative within Central Minnesota communities.

Dawn Moen
BLEND Program Specialist

The 3-2-B Healthier in 2014

January 7, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Moen kids sledding

Happy New Year!  Now what?  It’s minus 15 degrees outside and you’re already set to throw your resolutions out the window. Oh wait, you didn’t make them yet? You’re in luck because these 3 easy and specific resolutions are sure to jumpstart your healthier path in 2014. Remember whether you pick these 3-2-B healthy or create your own, be specific!

1. Get outside for at least 15 minutes per day!

Okay maybe not when it’s minus 15, but any day that is zero or above is fair game to get out and move. Go for a walk. If you are cold…run! Take up a winter sport such as cross country skiing or skating with your kids. Parking your car a little farther from the door in parking lots, taking a quick walk around your office building at lunch or jogging around your neighborhood will make an impact on your health. Buy a pedometer and resolve to get at least 10,000 steps every day. Bottom line: Make the effort to get some fresh air every day. When it’s cold, it will feel especially fresh.

Moen family skiing at Lutsen

2. Pick a fitness event and sign up right now!

Whether it’s a running, biking, swimming or some other event find something now and sign up. We are almost ready to announce our 2014 Fit Kids Club Series but don’t let that stop you. Identify the event now and then put together an action plan to get there. I will cover putting together training plans in February. Not interested in signing up for a fitness event? Sign up for a Yoga class, healthy cooking class or meditation series. Bottom line: Sign up for something new and make yourself go!

3. Sleep more!

If you want a major life overhaul without much effort, getting more shut-eye is the way to go. Sleeping helps you burn fat, decreases stress, improves your immune system and boosts your mood and mental clarity. Slowly change your routine to add 15 minutes a night until you get to eight hours. Add 15 minutes of meditation or classical music and reading to your bedtime routine. Being more active throughout the course of your day will assist you with falling asleep at night. Bottom line: Get 8 hours of sleep per night. No excuses.

Tell us your story!Dawn Moen and family

We know there are amazing healthy living success stories across Central Minnesota and we want to hear them! Share your walking or biking story and how you incorporate either into your daily life. If you are selected as a BLEND champion you will win a $50 Coborn’s gift card!  Your story could be about walking or biking to school, work or elsewhere, successfully training for a race, family activities (my family loves skating on the neighborhood pond!), implementing a neighborhood walking school bus or bike train. Your success will educate and inspire other BLEND champions around the state! Use our web form to submit your story, and we’ll get in touch with you soon to elevate and share it.

Remember that walking, cycling or increasing physical activity of any type daily will increase your health and the quality of the life that you live. Kids need 60 minutes of physical activity a day and adults need 30 minutes.

Stay warm!

Dawn MoenDawn Moen is the BLEND Safe Routes to School Program Specialist.

Her primary responsibility will include growing the Safe Routes to School initiative within Central Minnesota communities; including: Sartell, Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud. Dawn’s efforts will include evaluating and expanding the safety, awareness and usage of the walking and biking paths surrounding elementary and middle schools.


Support Active Children through Safe Routes to School

January 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Safe Routes to School - kids walking safely to school

Do you remember walking to and from school, uphill, both ways in the snow?  We sure do! Unfortunately, most of today’s children won’t be able to pass on this memory to their children because they aren’t walking to or from school.  43% of kids who live less than a mile from their school are driven to and from school each day. 

Safe Routes to School in MN

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The goal of the program is to get more kids walking and biking to school, which can play a critical role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity.  

State legislation, SF 1439/HF 1429, would help Minnesota build the infrastructure needed to give more children the choice to bike or walk to school.  Watch the video to learn more.

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Studies show that children who walk and bicycle to school are more physically active, have lower body mass index scores, lower obesity levels and are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than students who are driven or bused to school. 

It’s unfair to expect and encourage children to be more physically active without providing them an opportunity and safe environment to incorporate exercise into their daily routines.   Read more about Safe Routes to School.

The Safe Routes to School bills (SF 1439/HF 1429) would allow for the sale and issuing of $3 million in bonds for capital investment towards walking/biking infrastructure improvements. In the last federal funding cycle MNDOT received 82 applications from local schools requesting $23 million but only $3.8 million was available and awarded to 16 applicants through the federal program. 

Get Involved!

Get Connected – Join the You’re the Cure network to get connected with your legislators and ask them to support active children with Safe Routes to School.

Voice Your Concern – Join other advocates speak with MN legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of fighting heart disease and stroke.  On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.) – the American Heart Association is hosting their 2013 Minnesota Heart on the Hill event at the State Capitol.  Attend workshops and training and then put your skills to the test when you meet with your state legislators.  Breakfast and lunch included.  No cost to attend but advance registration is required.

Advocate for AHA’s Policy Agenda, which includes:

  1. Screening newborns for critical congenital heart defects
  2. Promoting physical activity and better nutrition to reduce heart disease across MN. 
    This includes supporting active children through Safe Routes to School.

Register online for the 2013 Heart on the Hill!!   Register by phone at: 952-278-7934 by Friday, February 1, 2013.

BLEND is a strong proponent of Safe Routes to School and is among a long list of MN supporters – see the entire list here!   Read more about SRTS throughout the BLEND website!

The content of this blog has been adapted from the AHA – Advocacy in MN website.

Give the Gift of Safety – Support Safe Routes to School!

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

UnSafe Route to School

Advocates for Safe Routes to Schools articulate the need for state lawmakers to make the significant investment in safety and health of our children by funding the new Minnesota Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Watch this great video that details why Safe Routes to School in Minnesota is so important!

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Share the video with your lawmakers and ask them to fund the Minnesota Safe Routes to School program!

The SRTS program seeks to increase physical activity among school children and decrease transportation costs. In the last federal funding cycle MNDOT received 82 applications from local schools requesting $23 million but only $3.8 million was available and awarded to 16 applicants through the federal program. Currently, at least 70 schools and districts across the state are planning for Safe Routes to Schools in their communities. Help districts like Oak Hill Elementary (St. Cloud, MN) and Oak Ridge Elementary (Sartell, MN) secure Safe Routes to School by asking your lawmakers to fund the Minnesota Safe Routes to School program.

Oak Hill Elementary School

Near Oak Hill Community School – facing South on Oak Grove Rd. on a weekday morning.

The number of obese and overweight children has tripled in the last 20 years. Currently, 63% of Minnesota adults are overweight or obese. It is recommended that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but we know that few of our children are getting that level of activity. It’s unfair to expect and encourage children to be more physically active without providing them an opportunity and safe environment to incorporate exercise into their daily routines. The Minnesota Safe Routes to School program is one way to begin to reverse these trends but the program will not be able to be implemented without proper funding.

Take Action and ask your lawmakers to fund the Safe Routes to School program

During this holiday season of giving…please take the time and ask your lawmakers to fund the Safe Routes to School program to give our kids safe paths for walking and biking to school.  Thanks for helping to build healthier lives and communities.

[Guest Post] Safe Routes to School Program: Coming Soon to Oak Hill

June 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Angie Stenson is the Senior Transportation Planner at the St. Cloud Area Planning Organization (APO). The APO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the St. Cloud area and conducts transportation planning activities for all modes including transit, bicycle, and pedestrian. Ms. Stenson graduated from the University of Illinois with a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is an alumna of North Dakota State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

On May 9, 2012 MnDOT announced Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant recipients of federal funds totaling $768,000.  The program will support 92 Minnesota schools, funding non-infrastructure and planning activities.  Oak Hill Community School in St. Cloud is among the awardees.  Oak Hill is one of 70 schools in 35 communities statewide to receive support for completion of a SRTS plan.  The planning assistance grant will help the school gather information on existing conditions, gather public input, and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions to promote bicycling and walking to school.

Near Oak Hill Community School - facing South on Oak Grove Rd. on a weekday morning.

Safe Routes to School is a program created through federal legislation in the 2005 federal transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU).  The main purpose of the program is to increase opportunities for children to safely walk and bicycle to school.  It also seeks to address the current social issue of childhood obesity and inactivity.  In addition, SRTS can lead to community benefits such as decreases in traffic congestion issues and motor vehicle emissions.

At the core of SRTS are the 5 E’s: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation. This promotes a balanced approach to the implementation of the program.  This funding cycle included solicitation for non-infrastructure and planning funds only, meaning no infrastructure projects were awarded.  Since 2005, however, the majority of funding, $9.9 million, has been awarded for infrastructure projects.

Non-infrastructure and planning activities are a vital part of the SRTS program as a whole. The importance of the new, concrete sidewalk or the smooth, asphalt multi-use path installation is visibly understood by most, but the underlying factors of education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation can be more difficult to validate.  This funding cycle MnDOT allocated funding for planning assistance as well as non-infrastructure projects including walking and bicycling maps, support for crossing guard programs, bicycle safety programs (during and after school), and various encouragement activities such as a “Walking School Bus”.  These programs are activity based and go hand-in-hand with the development of new infrastructure.

In the case of Oak Hill, the planning process is valuable because no clear, common-sense solution directly addresses the primary goal of increasing opportunities for children to safely walk and bicycle to the school.  Existing conditions, opportunities, and scenarios will be explored through the combination of community input and technical expertise (SRTS grant).  The objective of the process will be to provide a plan for pedestrian infrastructure improvements in and around the school, and it will stress ways to bolster bicycle and pedestrian safety education as well as encouragement programs.  If you are a parent or staff member at Oak Hill, look for opportunities to get involved in the SRTS planning beginning this fall.

Do you have an interest in bicycle and pedestrian issues beyond the SRTS program? The St. Cloud Area Planning Organization (APO) has a venue for you to share your ideas or concerns. The APO Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee consists of community members and officials who meet to discuss relevant and ongoing bicycle and pedestrian topics in the metropolitan area.  Please contact me if you would like more information.

Angie Stenson, AICP
Senior Transportation Planner
St. Cloud Area Planning Organization
Phone: 320-252-7568

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