If you want so see some good use of your federal tax dollars — use that will help children toward a better life one step at a time, and reduce the risk of town traffic striking a child — just go to Blue Mountain and look at the crumbling sidewalk of your choice. There you’ll see the need for a $211,875 federal Safe Routes to School grant to repair substandard sidewalks near Blue Mountain School. The South Tippah School District was awarded the grant recently. No local matching funds are required. The grant will finance the construction or reconstruction of about one mile of standard four-foot sidewalks in the blocked residential areas that surround the school. Many of the sidewalks, built in the 1930s during Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) are unlevel, broken, and generally unsafe. As a result, many residents choose to walk in the streets, increasing the possibility of someone being struck by a vehicle. The improvements are designed to encourage students to in grades K-8 to walk or ride their bicycles to and from school for exercise and health benefits. Considering that this state is one of the most obese states per capita in the nation, and that there’s a national trend toward increasingly obese children at increasing younger ages, this grant is a step – literally – in the right direction. Obesity condemns children to a lesser quality life than what they’d have by taking care of themselves in the most basic way, such as getting some walking in each school day. The trend toward obesity brings with it increased incidence of juvenile diabetes, as well as heart attack and stroke possibilities for those children as they become adults. As obese adults, they can require more medical attention. That means insurance claims to pay those medical bills will rise, pushing up the cost of healthcare. The soaring cost of healthcare is a national problem. Reducing that cost begins with each of us making an effort to take better care of ourselves by intelligent applications of exercise, rest and diet. For school youngsters, better health and fitness can begin something as simple and easy as walking to and from school. Want lower medical bills? Start taking better care of yourself. Want to see healthcare costs decline for your children? Encourage them to take care of themselves. Walking to school is a good start.

Southern Sentinel