Walk your child to school today
Just a few decades ago, almost half of our children walked or rode their bikes to school each day, rain or shine. Chances are, you remember grabbing your backpack and lunch box and skipping out the door with a sibling or neighborhood friend. Today, only a third of those living within a mile of school walk or ride their bikes. In high-traffic areas or those lacking sidewalks or walking trails, these numbers are considerably lower.
Here's another alarming fact: Since 1980, the obesity rate among children has almost tripled. The number of overweight children has quadrupled. Young people are developing weight-related chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and musculoskeletal pain, hindering their ability to face the physical demands of everyday life. In such a serious public health crisis, even a simple concept such as walking to school is a change that can make a significant impact.
Today, Oct. 5, marks the 14th year of an international effort to celebrate the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school. It's called International Walk to School Day, and it is designed to encourage families to engage in physical activity while practicing pedestrian- and bicycle-safety skills.
The federally funded Safe Routes to School program works throughout the year to improve safety and provide the infrastructure for kids to walk and bicycle to school in a safe environment. In many Florida counties, schools use the Walking School Bus model. This model is a volunteer-run group that walks with children to and from school. The Department of Health's Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant provides support in initiating the Walking School Buses in elementary schools. Safe Routes to School and Walking School Buses have gained recognition recently as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign. Additionally, these walking and bicycling programs are garnering support from other community groups for reducing the economic and environmental burden produced by excessive fuel emissions and eliminating student drop-off and pickup congestion.
Today, consider walking with your child to school. If walking to school isn't practical, walk to the bus stop or drive most of the way to school and walk the last part. The Safe Routes to School program is administered by the Florida Department of Transportation. For more information on the local Safe Routes to School Program, contact Steve Diez at (352) 754-4057, ext. 28013. For information on Communities Putting Prevention to Work, contact Lucy Gonzalez-Barr at (813) 395-4126.
Elizabeth Callaghan, administrator, Hernando County Health Department
Postal Service is obsolete, Oct. 2 letter
Postal Service still is relevant
Are you kidding? Tell me, do you know anyone who doesn't own or know how to use a computer? How about parents, grandparents, elderly or someone who just can't afford one or to pay for Internet?
The Postal Service will be around for a long time. How do you mail a package out of your house? How to buy stamps? How to mail overnight? (Oh, and not everyone knows how to use the "do-it-yourself" machine, and you can't send international mail from there). Use the Internet? That would be hard if you can't afford or use it.
Do you really want all your cards coming over the Internet? I know postage is expensive but some things cannot be replaced by a computer. I know things have changed but this isn't going to help anyone. It's like the poor elderly woman attempting to pump her own gas. It's something that should not have ended.
Stacey Horan, Spring Hill
Sending cards by mail, not Internet
I would like the letter writer and others to know that in 2010 I sent, via the Postal Service (not on the computer, which I do have), these cards: 60 happy birthday; 12 thank-you; six sympathy; 18 hello and get well; 10 anniversary; approximately 125 for Christmas and 70 miscellaneous.
In 2011, I've already mailed just about as many plus approximately 50 invitations for a baby shower and approximately 50 to high school alumnae for a reunion.
With this in mind and with many others doing as I do, I suppose the U.S. Postal Service will stay in business.
Judy Smith, Spring Hill
Hospital squeeze hurts patient care | Oct. 2 letter
Curtailed nursing care hurts public
As a onetime overnight patient in HCA's Community Hospital a few years ago, the writer's letter rang true. When I came into my room, a partially used IV bag lay in the sink in my bathroom. When they came to mop the floor, I noticed that the mop was already filthy. When I had a specific need, the registered nurse on duty was hard-pressed to help because of other demands.
Who is to blame for this kind of neglect? Try guessing. Hospitals, especially HCA, have grown fat and rich while patients suffer. However, nursing care being shortchanged in hospitals is not the only place where the public suffers.
Our county health departments are another area where things have changed, and not for the better.
When I became a public health nurse in the early 1980s, we did true nursing care. We went into the community, saw newborns, conducted tests for venereal diseases, instructed and cared for skin diseases, especially Florida-type problems such as creeping eruption. We worked with and for the public, hence our name.
I was trained to examine children through the age of teens in Pinellas as well as Pasco County, under the auspices of the medical director. We had a hands-on relationships with all of our patients, delivering nursing care, and working with physicians in our health department as well as specialty docs brought in to work with us. We were a complete care designation for many, either through our federal programs or those mandated by our state to care for the public.
We educated, followed up and integrated ourselves into our community. Too many of these duties and responsibilities have been curtailed, leaving some in our community without health care guidance. All this is in the name of saving money, it seems. I believe this makes our county poorer for the loss. I, too, have recently retired, but plan on volunteering for this same health department.
Lilyan V. Dayton, New Port Richey