U.S. surgeon general visits Tate Elementary in Las Vegas to promote walking

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy visited the Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday on the first stop of his national campaign to promote walking and walkable communities.

Murthy greeted students and parents of Tate Elementary School, near the intersection of Carey Avenue and Nellis Boulevard, to promote the health benefits of walking and drawing attention to communities that lack safe and convenient places to walk or use their wheelchairs.

The doctor, who was confirmed in December, said promoting physical activity and safe places to walk will be the first of his three major public health campaigns during his tenure as surgeon general. Down the road, Murthy plans to tout the benefits of proper nutrition and emotional well-being, encouraging programs rooted in promoting healthful families and communities.

“Walking and making neighborhoods easier and safer for foot traffic is the start,” he said. “That is not the reality right now in too many communities.”

Part of the campaign is to look at streets with unsafe conditions, such as the intersection of Lincoln Road and Cartier Avenue, near Tate Elementary. The lack of sidewalks and irregular pavement can make walking the streets tricky.

Among the throng Tuesday were Imelda and Alfredo Aguirre with their daughters, Fernanda, 6, and Camila, 4. At least one of the Aguirres walks their daughters to school each day, Alfredo Aguirre said, because drivers don’t always obey the numerous caution signs and reduced speed limits.

“Sometimes, people just drive way too fast,” he said.

Children who don’t get enough physical activity increase their risk of chronic diseases and obesity. Surveys have found that the most commonly reported barrier for walking to school was distance, followed by traffic-related dangers.

Tate Elementary launched its frequent walker program Tuesday to help encourage students to walk to school. Murthy walked with students to highlight the school’s participation in the Safe Routes to School program, which has helped to improve the safety for children on their ways to and from school for 10 years.

Murthy also champions Step It Up, a national call to action to get more people walking and make communities safer and more inviting places to walk. Individuals have to make the decision to walk, but the decision can be made easier by improvements to community walkability and by programs and policies that provide opportunities and encouragement for walking.

Contact Steven Moore at smoore@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563.

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