Each week, our own Zach Brooks speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Zach’s profile and contact him.
Terry Lansdell wants to make North Carolina a safer place to walk and bike. Terry has a history of providing children with bicycles and teaching them to how to bike safely. Now he works on policy to help create a healthy North Carolina.
Name: Terry Lansdell
Title: North Carolina State Advocacy Organizer
Organization: Safe Routes to School National Partnership
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
For me it has been more of an evolution. I never led my personal, professional or public service efforts with reducing childhood obesity. It has always been the backdrop to get more kids and their parents on bikes and walking. While working with another nonprofit devoted to kids and bikes, I was able to [help] hundreds of disadvantaged kids learn how to ride and value bicycle ownership. While working for a large bicycle retailer, I built more than 25,000 bicycles for the children in the region. As a state advocate, now I am inspired in trying to affect millions of kids across the state and establish active living habits through Safe Routes to Schools programs and projects.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
At the highest level, I am trying to ensure that promises of funding fundamental changes to our built environment around schools get spent on real projects that make walking and bicycling to school safer. At the 10,000-foot level, I am trying to make sure that the perceptions of risk are changed through educational programs that teach parents and kid how to be safe while walking and bicycling to school, opening schools to promote shared use of facilities for play and connecting other activity centers in the neighborhood to the school. Flying at the treetop level, providing Safe Routes to School does more than give a transportation option. It helps kids reach the 60 minutes of exercise needed to prevent obesity by integrating activities like walking and bicycling in their daily lives.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
While it is a challenge to capture longitudinal data on obesity changes in North Carolina, I feel that supporting the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch initiatives to promote Safe Routes to School across the state is at the top of the list. Gaining a dedicated Safe Routes to School resource in all 10 health divisions will yield long-term benefits that will create real social change for this generation of children in North Carolina.
Who is your role model in your work?
I am lucky to have a whole host of inspiring role models around the world. Without having to look beyond the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Robert Ping and Deb Hubsmith are successful passionate change agents for the movement. It is inspiring and humbling each day to experience their passion and expertise firsthand.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
While I am now approaching 50, I grew up on natural snacks. I still love bananas, fruit and the classic PB&J to satisfy most of my cravings and fuel!