More than 250 students in grades kindergarten through fifth attend Polk Elementary School in Baton Rouge, La. In 2007, Polk Elementary was the target school of the Walk this Way program, which focuses on a different school within the Baton Rouge school district each year.
Together, the city of Murray and the Murray Independent School District are working to make the way to school safer for children. The city led efforts to seek Federal Safe Routes to School funding for sidewalks, and surrounding schools are following up with education and encouragement. The city has about 16,000 people and is located within a county of about 34,000. The middle school, which houses grades 4 to 8, is in the center of town, according to Eleanor Spry, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.
Lincoln Elementary School is in Mount Vernon, Wash., a small city in a rural county. Many of the roads surrounding the school are suitable for walking, but until the introduction of a Healthy School pilot program in 2006, not many students were encouraged to walk to school.
Because of its rural setting, Longview Elementary School and the Moses Lake community faced unique issues surrounding child safety and safer walking programs. A small number of students walk to school, and residents were concerned with the safety of the two main roads leading up to the school’s entrance. Parents and teachers and members of the Parent Teachers Association voiced concerns about safety conditions on the roads and took the initiative to work with the community in finding solutions.
In 1995, the Auburn School District linked concerns about the high cost of transportation and increased childhood obesity to create cooperation that has led to 20 percent of its district’s students walking to school.
“The key to our program is the partnership,” said Jim Denton, Director of Transportation for the Auburn School District in Auburn, WA, for 12 years.