Liberty, MO, is a small historic community with a population of less than 30,000 people. All nine of the elementary schools in Liberty are in neighborhoods where most of the students live within walking distance to school. Unfortunately, a lack of infrastructure discourages many parents from allowing their children to walk or bicycle to school.
Franklin Elementary is one of the neighborhood elementary schools in Liberty that has been participating in Walk to School Days for several years. In addition to the annual event, students are encouraged to walk around the tennis courts and school gym during recess, physical education class and after school with their parents or friends. The students keep track of the number of laps completed and report it to their teacher, who records the number of laps and converts them into miles. The teachers then graph the miles onto a map of the United States, so the students can see how far they have traveled as a school. The children who walk the farthest receive tokens and are awarded small prizes.
Franklin Elementary also provides pedestrian and bicycle safety education in their health classes. By combining classroom education and physical activity, the health and physical education teachers collaborate to educate students on how to live healthier lifestyles. The teachers emphasize the importance of walking whenever it’s possible, even though society makes other transportation options easily accessible.
In summer 2007, the city of Liberty received $240,000 in Safe Routes to School funds through the Missouri Department of Transportation. The funds will be used for infrastructure improvements around Franklin Elementary School, such as the installation of a sidewalk connecting a neighborhood to the elementary school and the construction of two small pedestrian bridges to help children cross two creeks bordering the school. The state of Missouri approved a contract for surveying Liberty, and the surveyors will be collecting data to provide design information. The design will be finalized by summer 2008, and there is a tentative construction date set for late summer 2008. Currently, the school district is conducting post-evaluation studies to determine if there has been a change in the number of children walking and bicycling to school since the implementation of SRTS activities.
Liberty Public School District
Phone: (816) 736-5300