Students in the Santa Monica- Malibu Unified School District will be getting to school a little differently this month.

May marks the school district’s Bike It! Walk It! days, during which students are encouraged to come to school via bicycles, scooters, skateboards or sneakers instead of relying on cars. Other forms of transportation, like carpooling and riding the bus, are also encouraged.

Roosevelt Elementary will start the event on May 8, closely followed by Lincoln Middle School and John Muir Elementary/Santa Monica Alternative School House on May 9. The rest of the schools in the district will begin participation May 11.

In addition to the environmental and health impact, the school district also supports this project because of the effect on traffic congestion near schools, according to a statement from SMMUSD.

The first Bike It! Day was held at Samohi four years ago in an attempt to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

— Samantha Masunaga


Start of summer camp sign-ups

Enrollment is now open for the 2012 Santa Monica City Camps.

The 28 summer sessions run from June 18 to Aug. 15. Camps are geared toward children ages 2 -14 and are focused around a variety of topics, including rock bands, engineering and math and water adventure clinics.Both full and half day camps will be offered, and financial assistance may be available for those who qualify.

Recent studies have shown that children who attend day or resident summer camps for at least a week show significant positive changes in areas like self-esteem and social skills, according to a statement from City Hall.

“Each summer, Santa Monica’s summer camps open up new doors for our youth, helping them build the foundation for bright futures,” said Julie Rusk, Human Services Division manager.



Keeping culture intact

The arts and culture are now a critical component of City Hall’s Sustainable City Plan, a road map adopted in 1994 to measure Santa Monica’s progress towards creating a community that meets its current environmental, economic and social needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.

Despite the creative sector employing roughly 43 percent of Santa Monica’s residents, the arts and cultural organizations were only briefly mentioned in the Sustainable City Plan. They are now the plan’s ninth goal area, which comprise the core of the community vision and represent what Santa Monica must achieve in order to become a sustainable city.

“Adding an arts and culture goal area to the Sustainable City Plan will help us document Santa Monica’s ongoing cultural vitality and provide valuable information for policy makers,” said Jessica Cusick, City Hall’s Cultural Affairs manager.

The new goal area was added Tuesday by the City Council in recognition of the role the arts and culture play in the community, Cusick said.

City officials will work to:

• Retain and nurture Santa Monica’s arts community and resources;

• Increase cultural participation and provide greater access to a diverse selection of programs for all ages;

• Enhance the long-term sustainability of Santa Monica’s creative sector.

The indicators for the arts and culture goal area will be developed over the next few months and presented to the council in September, along with the update of the existing Sustainable City Plan.

Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson of the Urban Institute, author of “Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators,” and a leading authority in the field of cultural indicators, is advising city officials.

As of January 2011, Santa Monica was home to 1,763 arts-related businesses that employ 10,579 people, city officials said.

— Kevin Herrera

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