Major Wins for Washington’s Kids!
Monday, July 13th – Olympia, WA
After many months of hard work, it came down to a momentous couple of weeks in Olympia for the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and our fight for a healthier Washington. The state legislature finally adjourned before the weekend, and this afternoon we are pleased to share the following victories for Washington’s kids.
The new 16-year Transportation Revenue Package will make it possible for more kids to safely bike and walk to school.
Last year, COPC and key partners, including the American Heart Association, Washington Bikes and the Foundation for Healthy Generations, set out to enable more kids to bike and walk to school, particularly in those communities where safe streets and places to exercise are needed most. When we first launched our Safe Routes Healthy Kids campaign, only one in four eligible Safe Routes to School grant applications were funded in our state. We have DOUBLED that investment. The new package includes an impressive:
- $56 million in new state revenue for SRTS
- $75 million in new state revenue for Pedestrian and Bicycle grant projects
- $89 million for the state project list (primarily Ped/Bike projects)
- $106 million in new state revenue for Complete Streets Grant Program
Additionally listed in the package is important language around equity that will make it possible for areas with stronger needs to have equal footing when being considered for a Safe Routes to School grant.
There is also marked intent from the legislature that harkens back to SB 5724, a bill introduced by Senator Billig that specified clear legislative intent to maintain a floor amount for federal funding of Safe Routes to School in our state.
COPC director Vic Colman remarked, “Active transportation is increasingly gaining recognition across party lines and this level of funding is certainly a strong indicator of legitimacy.”
We successfully fought for increased access to drinking water in our schools, thanks to new funding in the Capital Budget.
For the past few years, COPC has been working to establish healthier beverage environments in the places where we live, work, learn and play. Thanks to a $1 million infusion of funds in the Capital Budget, we will be able to fund over three hundred water bottle filling stations to be installed in schools throughout the state, including the schools that need it most. These stations help promote drinking water throughout the day, and will present a much needed alternative to sugary drinks, and the unattractive, difficult to use, and aging fountains that often deter school kids from making a healthier choice.
“We see this victory as an important initial step in the effort to reclaim drinking water as a healthy and accessible choice for our kids. Our hope for the future is to combine this with other norm changing efforts that will put Washington state on the map for reducing sugary drink over consumption and related disease and deaths,” said Jennifer Trott, associate director for the Coalition.
We’re also pleased about several other wins that will make a big impact on our efforts to build healthier communities for our state:
- $5 million for the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools program that can pay for school kitchen equipment school playground equipment; and garden-related structures and greenhouses (along with water bottle filling stations)
- Continued funding for a full-time Healthiest Next Generation staff member at the Department of Health.
- $10 million for Youth Athletic Facilities, including $7 million in competitive grants.
The wins of this legislative session demonstrate how far we’ve come, but also tell us that momentum for healthier communities is ours to embrace moving forward. Drawing on the strength and expertise of its members, as well as support from the growing number of organizations investing in Washington’s health, COPC is poised to continued to lead that effort. Stay tuned for for what’s next!