Corrales Elementary and Valle Vista Elementary School might both be in the Albuquerque public school district, but they have significant differences in location and student population. Corrales Elementary is in an affluent, rural community, while Valle Vista is in a low income, urban neighborhood mostly comprised of Spanish- speaking residents. Each community is connected by historic irrigation ditches designed to transport water for crops. Community members use the service roads bordering these ditches as makeshift pedestrian paths to reach commercial areas, schools and other neighborhoods.
In 2005, and with only local funding, Safe Routes to School encouragement activities began at Valle Vista Elementary. These activities included bicycle rodeos, Walking Wednesdays and Walk to School Days.
In 2006, the Albuquerque Alliance for Active Living (AAAL) selected the Vecinos del Bosque Neighborhood Association as a pilot neighborhood to promote active living through policy, promotion, partnerships, projects and programs. Through
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AAAL is funding 25 community partnerships across the country to demonstrate how changing community design can impact physical activity. Vecinos del Bosque and Valle Vista Elementary began working with AAAL and the National Park Service to engage community residents and students in walk audits, provide pedestrian and bicyclist safety courses and to organize Walk to School Days and Walking School Buses.
In summer 2007, Corrales Elementary received $15,000 of federal SRTS program funds through the New Mexico Department of Transportation to expand their program. This money will be used to develop an implementation plan, further develop encouragement activities and to conduct in-class surveys of third, fourth and fifth graders about how they arrive at school.
The National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) is providing technical assistance to community partners interested in repairing the trails along the irrigation ditches. These trails would run directly adjacent to the two schools and link transportation throughout the larger Albuquerque area. RTCA has helped many communities in New Mexico by providing free conservation and trail planning efforts, including those planning efforts for SRTS projects.
The trails adjacent to the two schools will have three or four designated school drop-off zones, which will allow children to walk part of the way to school and also will decrease traffic congestion around the schools. The locations of these drop-off zones also will serve as pick-up points for Walking School Buses.
Corrales Elementary has an active parent SRTS group working with the town and others to develop a SRTS program as part of a larger trail system in the community. The federal SRTS grant money will allow SRTS activities to expand and increase the number of children safely walking to school.
Valle Vista Elementary will continue to work with AAAL and other partners to organize Walk to School Days and Walking School Buses and to make physical trail and street crossing improvements.
Director of the Albuquerque Alliance For Active Living
National Park Service
Phone: (505) 988-6092