National Public Health Week Focuses on Connection Between Climate Change and Health

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The American Public Health Association (APHA) along with its many partners celebrate National Public Health Week 2008, April 7-13, with the theme Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance. The National Center for Safe Routes to School has signed on as one of the partnering organizations that recognize this event.

"Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing our nation,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA.

This year’s theme compliments many goals of Safe Routes to School programs. Less walking and bicycling and more motor vehicle traffic can negatively impact air quality. Safe Routes to School programs help to reduce auto emissions by encouraging walking and bicycling to school.

Honoring National Public Health Week is an excellent way to celebrate Safe Routes to School and recognize the importance of environmental responsibility within communities. SRTS programs can join the week’s activities by celebrating Travel Differently Day on Tuesday, April 8th. Programs could also organize a walking clean-up day to beautify the pathways in and around a school. Programs could also lead a walking survey of the school’s recycling facilities and discuss waste reduction strategies along the walk.

APHA released a blueprint for combating the health effects of climate change, which provides an overview of the issues at hand and includes suggestions for action. For more information about the Week, please visit the NPHW Web site http://www.nphw.org/nphw08/default.htm.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. Established in May 2006, the Center strives to equip Safe Routes to School programs with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies. The Center is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.