New Pasadena Project: Cleaner Air and Safer Routes for Healthier Children

Air Alliance Houston receives grant to support Pasadena-area children’s well-being

Cleaner Air and Safer Routes for Healthier Children

 

The Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities program has awarded Air Alliance Houston a $100,000 grant to support a project to address the social determinants of health impacting children in Pasadena. In collaboration with Harris County Public Health-Healthy Living Matters Pasadena, Air Alliance Houston will implement a project to promote safe public spaces and reduce exposure to air contaminants by demonstrating how changes to the built environment can improve accessibility to alternative modes of transportation (such as walking and biking), reduce exposure to traffic-related air pollution and increase physical activity among children in the surrounding communities near Pasadena Independent School District selected elementary schools.

The project comes at a critical time to begin addressing community concerns that were expressed in response to community surveys conducted by Air Alliance Houston in 2017. The results indicated that out of 1,336 north Pasadena households surveyed, 47 percent are strongly concerned about vehicular traffic and idling near schools. According to parents surveyed, 52 percent reported having at least one child ever diagnosed with asthma. With regard to physical activity, 82 percent of parents said they do not allow their children to walk or bike to school due to concerns about the lack of bike lanes, poor condition of and their safety.

Through the project “Cleaner and Safer Routes for Healthier Children,” AAH will conduct air monitoring training sessions to increase communities’ knowledge regarding the impact of traffic-related pollution on children’s health, build community capacity to collect and interpret air quality data and advocate for policies that best support children’s well-being. AAH, Healthy Living Matters and urban planning consultants will conduct training sessions and implement tactical urbanism strategies to increase communities’ knowledge about the impact of physical activity on children’s health and apply them in the built environment to increase walking and biking among residents. We will be working with the community and stakeholders to ensure that the project is guided by members of the community, as their feedback is integral to the design, approach and reporting of the project outcomes.

This project will demonstrate the importance of addressing air quality and investing in urban infrastructure to improve bikeability and walkability to support children’s well-being. Using existing grant funding, AAH will continue its advocacy work to reduce idling pollution in an effort to improve children’s health. Additionally, HLM-Pasadena has worked on built-environment improvement recommendations for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) plan to benefit these priority schools. Through this project and the SRTS plan, AAH and HLM will leverage opportunities to acquire federal and state funding for key projects prioritizing the City of Pasadena’s built-environment needs to support active transportation, reduce vehicle-emissions and increase opportunities for children to thrive.