National Center for Safe Routes to School Announces 34 Fall 2010 Mini-grant Recipients

Selected Communities Use Creative Approaches to Encourage Safe Walking and Bicycling to School

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (June 1, 2010) — The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the selection of 34 recipients to receive $1,000 mini-grants for projects designed to encourage safe walking and bicycling to school. The mini-grant activities, many of which are driven by student leadership, will occur during the fall semester of the 2010-2011 school year.

"The innovation and creativity of the mini-grant applications we received are impressive," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "The projects addressed a variety of local issues and concerns — truancy, tardiness, environmental effects of vehicle idling, student health, school zone safety — all of which illustrate the diverse approaches communities are taking to create successful walking and bicycling to school programs."

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. The National Center, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal SRTS program, received 375 SRTS mini-grant applications from schools and community organizations in 44 states. Selected proposals distinguished themselves through their commitment and creative approaches to increase safe walking and bicycling to school.

Proposed mini-grant activities identified ways SRTS programs can positively target physical activity, environmental benefits, personal safety and community building efforts. Reducing the practice of distracted driving was another focus of several recipients. Many of the projects were designed to ensure that students are involved in every step of the SRTS programs, from planning to implementation. For example, some students will be writing letters to city council members to request sidewalks, and others will be designing and promoting "no phone zone" campaigns to their peers and parents.

"These mini-grant recipients demonstrate how important it is to tailor Safe Routes to School efforts to the unique needs of each community," continued Marchetti. "The community and student leadership recognized here strengthen SRTS efforts across the country and set the stage for truly livable communities in the future."

The selected 34 mini-grant recipient organization programs and activities include:

  • Verner Elementary School (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) will encourage student ownership of SRTS by creating a classroom-based program with student Walking Captains. Each homeroom's Walking Captain will attend SRTS meetings, make SRTS-related announcements, lead SRTS activities/competitions, and encourage and tally student participation. The classroom-based program will assist in researching the effects of the walking program on Verner's campus and in documenting accessible paths to school using video-taped maps. These activities build on existing efforts and are part of a long-term goal to change the school community's culture to one where walking and bicycling to school are a way of life rather than part of a specific program.
  • La Mariposa Elementary School (Camarillo, Calif.) will expand the school's existing Walking Buses and Bike Train by installing a family bicycle rack and giving students the opportunity to create hand-held signs to carry while participating in a walking school bus. This effort will also increase the safety of La Mariposa's Walking Buses and Bike Train by equipping "drivers" with reflective vests, hand-held stop signs for street crossings, and a basic first aid kit. The school's TransportatorBot student group and student leadership group will assist with these and other activities.
  • Blossom Hill, Daves, Van Meter and Lexington Elementary Schools and Fisher Middle School (Los Gatos, Calif.) will sample outdoor air quality at each of the five district schools. Students will look for differences in school campus air quality when cars are idling in school drop-off lines compared to air quality at non drop-off/pick-up times. The school anticipates having students present their findings to the district, the community and the town council.
  • Cesar Chavez Elementary School and Webster Elementary School (Madera, Calif.) will partner with the Madera County Road Department to raise awareness of the importance of safe walking and bicycling to and from school. Students will lead the way in surveying fellow students, documenting routes to school, and presenting findings to a school committee. Additional activities include promoting Walk 'n Roll partners, hosting a helmet fashion show, engaging students in learning safety facts by playing Safety Tic-Tac-Toe, and implementing Car-Free Wednesdays, Anti-Idling, and Anti-Speeding campaigns for parents.
  • Mary Tsukamoto Elementary School (Sacramento, Calif.) will begin a student-organized bicycle lock and helmet loan program. Maps showing safe walking and bicycling routes to school and materials that focus on the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and safety will be distributed to parents. These educational materials will also be incorporated in student learning.
  • Bancroft Community School (Spring Valley, Calif.) will implement "Walk with Your Buddy Wednesdays," which is built upon the existing anti-bullying campaign within La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. The campaign promotes the idea of "being a buddy, not a bully." Buddies will track steps traveled, towards a goal of walking across America. The school will also expand its current safety patrol to include members from a nearby middle school.
  • Superior Elementary School (Superior, Colo.) will create a series of educational videos to address safe walking and bicycling topics. Under the leadership of a classroom teacher, the series will be designed and produced by students and parent volunteers. The videos will be integrated into the school's curriculum and available on the school district's website for further distribution.
  • Ivey Lane Elementary School, Audubon Park Elementary School (Orlando, Fla.) and the Orange County Health Department (OCHD) will support student volunteers who will use rented helmet video cameras on their walks and rides to school to document their experiences. The videos, which can be viewed by the entire student body, will help identify the reasons students at these two schools are or are not walking or bicycling to school. The videos will also highlight ways in the OCHD can assist in resolving obstacles that could prevent these children from walking or biking to school.
  • Atlanta Charter Middle School (Atlanta, Ga.) will partner with SOPO Bicycle Cooperative to purchase 11 bicycle racks for the school, providing critical infrastructure to enable students to bicycle to school. Students and staff will give input to determine the best locations for the racks, which will be decorated in a student-led design contest.
  • Floyd Middle School (Mableton, Ga.), Cobb and Douglas Public Health, and students in the school's Environmental Impact Club will design, advocate for, and install a walking/bicycling path for students who arrive and depart north of the school. Members of the Environmental Impact Club will work with other school clubs to create a short Public Service Announcement to explain the importance and benefits of safe routes to school, which will encourage students to stay after school to help create the path and educate students about pedestrian safety.
  • Still Elementary School (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Safe Kids Cobb County will teach students about having a voice in local government decisions by writing letters to the Cobb County Department of Public Safety and Cobb Department of Transportation asking for a crossing guard and sidewalk improvements. Challenge activities will be held to encourage students to walk. Students, teachers, parents, and Safe Kids Cobb County coalition coordinators will work together to establish a nature walking path from the school to a nearby neighborhood.
  • Sward Elementary School's Student Council (Oak Lawn, Ill.) will sponsor a Safe Routes to School campaign. As part of the campaign, students will design signs to encourage safer driving behaviors. Up to four designs will be chosen and permanently mounted on school property. Families will also be encouraged to safely walk and/or bicycle to school for two full weeks in the fall of 2010. Families that successfully complete this challenge will be recognized for their efforts.
  • Bryant Elementary School (Dubuque, Iowa) and East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) will develop a pilot walking school bus for the district. Bryant's fifth grade students will be leaders in promoting and organizing the effort, which fits in with the city of Dubuque's plans to fight obesity and create a healthy environment for all neighborhoods.
  • Winslow Elementary School (Winslow, Maine) will develop a peer walking program, led by its Junior High Fitness Committee and the fifth grade students. Students will use walkability and bikeability checklists to measure walking and bicycling safety around the school. They will also lead the development of a walking school bus and plant vegetation along the connector trail between the junior high and elementary school. The school will integrate walking and bicycling to school into the health and physical education curriculum, and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine will provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education.
  • C.T. Douglas Elementary School (Acton, Mass.) will partner with members of the Parent/Educators Group for a Rebuild of Wetlands Boardwalk group to rebuild a boardwalk that connects two elementary schools over a stream ecosystems area. The project will rebuild the boardwalk, bringing it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Students of all abilities will use this path to travel to and from school and on walking field trips, and community members will benefit as well.
  • Newman Elementary School (Needham, Mass.) will hold a student artwork competition for a walking school bus sign and a "Make This a Safe Route to School!" sign. The members of the Green Kids Club, a school club that was formed to take a leadership role in promoting environmental awareness throughout the school, will be responsible for planning and promoting the competition and for collaborating with the local Department of Public Works.
  • Snyder and Beckley Elementary Schools (Las Vegas, Nev.) will enable their gifted and talented third through fifth graders to hone their leadership and community service abilities by developing a safe map for walkers, a safety video to be presented at a school-wide assembly, and brochures to support their efforts to keep the school's community of walkers and bicyclists safe.
  • Durant Road Middle School (Raleigh, N.C.) will kick off the first-ever Durant SRTS program with an introductory letter to parents, school-wide participation in a WalkSmart seminar and poster contest, a student-designed website, and a student-led social media campaign. Students will also hold a DriveSmart event, targeting drivers on the heavily traveled highway that borders the school. These activities are in response to a recent tragedy during which one Durant Road student was killed and another seriously injured while walking home from school.
  • Olean City School District (Olean, N.Y.) and Cattaraugus Community Action, Inc., will promote and expand the existing walking school bus program, which originated as a truancy prevention effort. The expanded walking school bus program will continue its efforts to combat truancy and will also help students connect the choice to walk or bicycle to school with better health. Bringing together children, parents, school personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others will also promote a sense of membership in the broader community.
  • Saratoga Springs School District (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network will hire safety instructors to provide age-appropriate bicycle safety courses for students and will print posters on bicycle safety. The district's mini-grant activities come on the heels of a district-wide policy change to allow students to bicycle to school and to park their bicycles on school property.
  • Milton, Midland, Osborn and Rye Middle Schools (Rye, N.Y.) and Rye YMCA will create a public education campaign for all 18 schools in the Sound Shore community. The four student-designed Public Service Announcements promoting walking and bicycling will focus on safe driving and safe walking/bicycling practices, crosswalk safety tips, bicycle safety tips, and the health and environmental benefits of walking and bicycling. Safety Pledges for children and parents will also be developed to support these messages. This campaign supports additional ongoing SRTS efforts.
  • Tallmadge and Sanderson Elementary Schools (Lancaster, Ohio) and the Fairfield County Combined General Health District will benefit from a student-developed media campaign to promote bicycle helmet use. Students in 3rd through 5th grades will create a logo or slogan that will encourage youth their own age to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Students will also lead the Green Ribbon Month campaign to promote pedestrian/bicycle safety and driver awareness in school zones, school parking areas and driveways.
  • Antlers Schools (Antlers, Okla.) will purchase speed-reduction devices to be placed on streets adjacent to and on school property where students walk to classes. The system will establish, publicize, and post signs announcing a "phone-free zone" in school parking lots and on streets that serve as drop-off and pick-up areas. The student group TLC (Teens Leading Communities) will present programs at the middle school and, as pre-approved by the city, will paint Bearcat mascot paw prints on streets and crossings to indicate bike and walking routes for students.
  • Paxinosa Elementary School (Easton, Pa.), and the local Weed and Seed program, which is a community-driven collaboration between different organizations to help revitalize the West Ward neighborhood, will begin a "No Phone Zone" program that the student council will lead with support from the PTA, Weed and Seed, and teachers. Adults will be encouraged to sign a student-developed pledge to not use cell phones to text or talk when they are driving cars.
  • Universal Institute Charter School (UCIS) (Philadelphia, Pa.) will partner with South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) to paint an intersection mural in South Philadelphia. The collaborative design of the mural which will include students, neighbors, and the artist — will celebrate walking and bicycling and/or safety. This street mural will be a low-cost way to alert and inform motorists of the school zone.
  • Pearre Creek Elementary School (Franklin, Tenn.) will begin a walking school bus and will integrate neighborhood seniors as volunteers. Students will participate in themed activities and discussion topics while walking. Students will track their cumulative mileage online and on handheld devices to reach a specific walking goal, which could be anything from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the perimeter of Mars and beyond.
  • MacArthur Intermediate School (PK-8th) and El Paso Independent School District (EL Paso, Texas) will hold Safety Town classes during the physical education schedule. Helmets will be provided for students learning to ride at school and students and parents will be encouraged to get helmets for the daily ride. The National Junior Honor Society and Student Council Members have agreed to lead this project along with the school nurse. The project will also receive support from the El Paso Police Department.
  • Milam Elementary School (EL Paso, Texas) will enhance and expand the school's pedometer and bicycle riding programs as well as the bicycle and pedestrian safety and health education courses. The school will purchase safety equipment for students to allow for safer travel by bicycle or on foot.
  • Murchison Elementary School (Pflugerville, Texas) will establish and maintain official walking school buses utilizing parent and volunteer bus drivers, transportation department bus drivers, and student Safety Patrol leaders. The "Be Cool Walk to School with wsbUS" message will be reinforced in the school's curriculum in a variety of ways. As part of its efforts to combat tardiness, the school will track rates of tardiness related to when students are walking to school.
  • Brown Primary School, Smithville Elementary and Middle Schools, Smithville Independent School District (Smithville, Texas), the City of Smithville, the Smithville Police Department, and the Smithville Public Library will co-host a bicycle rodeo and bicycle registration. Interested students will participate in bicycle reconditioning workshops, and the school district will coordinate a social media campaign as part of its student outreach. There will be a student-written dramatic production, and the district's nutritionist will organize a family-focused heart health exercise.
  • Concord International Elementary School (Seattle, Wash.) and Feet First will replace rusty fencing of a pedestrian bridge spanning a major freeway connecting 50 percent of families within the walking boundary of Concord International Elementary School. It will facilitate a youth-inspired design and painting of the sides of the pedestrian bridge to encourage its use.
  • Adams, Monroe and Madison Elementary Schools and the School District (Janesville, Wis.) will begin a walking school bus program with adult chaperones accompanying students along the designated routes to address personal security issues. Students will create the logo for the city's Safe Routes to School program.
  • The School District of Omro (Omro, Wis.) will build, maintain, communicate, and routinely set up standardized visual reference points along safe routes to school. The district will construct six benches and social tables to be placed at the designated starting points in Omro during the monthly Walk to School group events. The district will improve the Omro Bike Rodeo event and will organize, plan, and implement a bicycle train along the safe routes to school path.
  • Westview Elementary School (Platteville, Wis.) will lead its third grade students in safe routes to school through its curriculum and walking school buses. Students will see SRTS tied to class lessons in civics and math, by using pedometers and graphing, and in health, by learning about exercise and crosswalk safety. Participation in walking school buses will result in additional special gym activities.