Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 10th, 2008 at 9:07 am
Photo Gallery (29 images)
(Photos © J. Maus)
When a dignitary visits Portland, what better thing for them to do than go on a bike ride, in the rain, with a bunch of kids?
The U.S. Surgeon General was in Portland yesterday touting his anti-obesity initiative. As part of his visit, he stopped at a school in North Portland where he presented an award to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and then joined students on a short bike ride.
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., attended a press conference at the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women where he said the BTA’s program, “is a model for the rest of the country.”
“When I looked at what was going on at this school,” he said, “I knew this was the place I had to visit in Oregon.”
Rear Adm. Galson told the crowd that a recent study showed video game usage among kids has gone up 75% in the last five years and that, if we’re going to curb inactivity and obesity, “we have to attack this at every level.”
Before presenting the BTA with a Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Champion award he again mentioned the BTA’s efforts and said, “if we [the U.S.] had more organizations like this, it would make it easy for me to jump-start what I’m trying to do.”
Rear Adm. Galson’s visit put a spotlight on the bike safety education class at the Harriet Tubman Academy, and it was also a long overdue recognition of one Portland’s very first bike safety educators, Kathryn Smith. Smith has taught bike safety education with the BTA since 2000, when the program was just a pilot out of one school (Ockley Green) in North Portland.
Since then, the BTA has taught tens of thousands of kids in schools throughout Oregon how to walk and bike safely.
When Smith first started with the BTA, it was Scott Bricker who was heading up their education programs. Bricker, now the organization’s executive director, was at the ceremony yesterday to honor Smith’s dedication.
Other speakers at the event included City of Portland Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams, Metro Councilor (and BTA founder) Rex Burkholder, and Oregon State Epidemiologist Mel Kohn.
After the press conference, Dr. Galson changed out of his military uniform, grabbed a helmet, threw a leg over a new Giant bicycle (donated by Bike ‘n Hike), and pedaled a short loop with about 15 youngsters from the class.
I rode alongside and chatted with Dr. Galson for a few minutes. He said it felt great to get out on a bike. Due to a hectic travel schedule he said, “That’s the downside to being Surgeon General, I haven’t been out on my bike for a long time.”
See more photos in the gallery.
Read and listen to a report that was broadcast on OPB this morning.