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Media Advisory: UB Grad Students Will Present "Active Commuting" Plan to Amherst Officials, Residents

Town, Williamsville Central School District want children to walk to school

Release Date: December 15, 2009

"Kid Corridors: Taking Steps to School" is an active commuting plan developed by UB graduate students that recommends ways the Town of Amherst and the Williamsville Central School District can education, encourage and enable middle and elementary school students to walk to school.

The plan will be presented to town and school district officials and members of the Amherst community Dec. 17 from 6-8 p.m. in the Council Chambers, Amherst Town Hall, 5583 Main St.

The public is invited to attend and offer feedback on the students' recommendations.

"Kid Corridors" is the product of a semester-long graduate planning studio, the "Active Commuting for Youth Studio," directed by Samina Raja, associate professor of urban and regional planning and adjunct associate professor of health behavior at the University at Buffalo, whose research focuses on planning and design for healthy communities, including the influence of the food and built environments on obesity and physical activity.

The 12 UB students enrolled in the studio were commissioned by the Town of Amherst to develop a plan to promote active commuting for youth. The project is funded by a Safe Routes to School Program grant the town received from the National Center for Safe Routes to School, a federally funded program administered by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Studio members analyzed the opinions and preferences of students and parents in Amherst to document barriers and opportunities to walking and bicycling in the Williamsville Central School District.

The groundwork for their study was laid by UB graduate students in a winter 2009 planning studio taught by Ernest Sternberg, professor of urban and regional planning.

Jessie Hersher, one of the UB students who worked on the project, says there are good reasons for students to walk or bike to school instead of taking a car or bus.

"Studies show that regular physical activity improves the physical and emotional health of children as well as their academic achievement," Hersher says, adding that active commuting programs can create new social networks and facilitate neighborhood improvements, making communities more livable for everyone.

"In decades past, the number of children who walked or biked to school was much higher," Hersher says, "but in more recent years the number of active commuters has declined dramatically. This plan is designed to help the Town of Amherst turn that trend around and promote good childhood health habits."

In addition to Hersher, the UB students involved in this project are Kelly Ganczarz, Lauren Hotaling, Manon Jokaleu, Fenna Mandolang, Beth McCalister, Jonathan McNeice, Jessica Miller, Kailee Neuner, Derek Nichols, Danielle Rovillo and Michael Watrous.

Media arrangements: Patricia Donovan in UB's Office of University Communications at 645-4602, and Samina Raja and Jessie Hersher, onsite.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.