Complete Streets Steering Committee spotlight: Voices for Healthy Kids

The National Complete Streets Coalition is just that—a coalition—and our success is made possible by our many partner organizations. Voices for Healthy Kids is the newest member of our Steering Committee and we’re proud to welcome them. We sat down with Stephanie Vaughn, Marketing Manager at Voices for Healthy Kids, to learn more about their work and what drives their commitment to Complete Streets.

National Complete Streets Coalition: What is Voices for Healthy Kids?
Stephanie Vaughn: Voices for Healthy Kids is a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Our goal is to help all children achieve a healthy weight through increasing access to healthy, affordable foods and safe places for physical activity.

What kinds of projects has Voices for Healthy Kids been doing lately?
We’re working to ensure that the places where children live, learn, and play make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active. In the first three years of the initiative, we’ve seen progress around the nation, with more than 50 policy wins, impacting more than 66 million lives. Recently, we’ve seen successes on multiple initiatives throughout the country including Safe Routes to School, Smart Snacks, Healthy Food Access, and Complete Streets. You can find an overview of these projects and many more in our 2016 Progress Report.

Why does Voices for Healthy Kids support a Complete Streets approach?
People of all ages and abilities should have the ability to travel throughout their town safely and conveniently. A Complete Streets approach supports good health by making it easier and safer for people to be physically active while going around town.

Increasing opportunities to add physical activity into our daily routines also helps kids stay focused and do better in school. In fact, studies show that people who live in walkable neighborhoods generally get more physical activity each week and have a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers than those who live in neighborhoods that are less walkable. At a time when 75 percent of teens do not get enough physical activity, this is something we can all get behind!

How is Voices for Healthy Kids helping communities use a Complete Streets approach?
We’re currently funding Complete Streets projects in Oklahoma City, Tucson, Georgia, and Louisiana. And we’ve seen active transportation policy successes in Massachusetts, Los Angeles County, and Phoenix. We’ve also developed a Complete Streets toolkit for advocates, which includes campaign support, messaging, sample content, graphics, and more. We’re looking forward to doing even more of this work in the year to come.

Want to learn more about Voices for Healthy Kids and how a Complete Streets intersects with health? Join us for a webinar on “The Role of Public Health in Complete Streets” at 1 PM EST tomorrow, February 15th, 2017. Tim Vaske, Regional Campaign Manager for Voices for Healthy Kids, will be one of our featured speakers.

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