Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Building consensus boosts SRTS program

Introduction

Building community partnerships has bolstered the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program at Kimberley Park Elementary School. Kimberley Park Elementary, an all-minority Title 1 school in Winston-Salem, NC, was one of five schools in a pilot project for SRTS training, according to Judi Lawson Wallace, Winston-Salem’s SRTS Coordinator. In choosing their pilot schools, she said they used a two-fold approach in their selection: first, they looked at where infrastructure already existed for children to walk safely to school; and then they held one-day SRTS workshops at each school.

“Kimberley Park parents and faculty and staff were very enthusiastic,” Wallace said. “All the children live in the walk zone. I just feel like this has huge potential to make a difference.”

Activities

A TV news cameraman photographs a small group of students carrying signs.The school was the site for a September 2006 SRTS National Course workshop, which raised awareness in the school and the surrounding community. In addition, Wallace said she worked to develop partnerships with other groups in Winston-Salem, such as Safe Kids, Safe Communities, Be Healthy and the School Health Alliance in Forsyth County. The Stratford Rotary Club adopted Kimberley Park and has been supportive through both financial and volunteering efforts, Wallace said, as well as having two members on the school’s SRTS committee. Having all the various organizations at the table gave the school a way to address SRTS in a comprehensive way, Wallace said.

“Kimberley Park has wonderful sidewalks,” Wallace said. “The issue with the Kimberley Park neighborhood is crime. We knew we had to have a multi-faceted approach.”

In December 2007, Wallace explained to the school’s Parent Teacher Association that through a partnership with the Forsyth County Health Department, the school’s SRTS program had received a $5,000 Eat Smart/Move More grant from the North Carolina Division of Public Health to provide training for the school staff and faculty for the upcoming Walk to School event. Staff participated in four training workshops to discuss encouragement, education and enforcement activities. Some faculty members also have participated in a task force that included representatives from the city, housing, neighborhood services, law enforcement, an area church and Habitat for Humanity.

Part of the grant also was used to purchase WalkSmart, an interactive computer program used at the school to teach pedestrian safety to students in kindergarten through third grade, Wallace said. The school already had committed to providing safe routes for its children. In 2005, school officials began a walking school bus through Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, a program started by the Winston-Salem Foundation to empower neighborhood leaders to improve their neighborhoods.

“I just feel like this has a huge potential to make a difference.” – Judi Lawson Wallace, Winston-Salem’s SRTS Coordinator.

A TV news cameraman shoots a small group of students carrying signs.

Milestones

In June 2008, Kimberley Park celebrated its first Walk to School Day event. Wallace and Sheila Bogan of the Forsyth County Department of Public Health organized the event with the help of the school’s SRTS committee. During the event, approximately half of the students participated. Organizers offered incentives and prizes; every child who walked received a rubber bracelet in the school colors. During the school’s Recognition Ceremony, drawings were held for prizes for students, parents and teachers who participated. Prizes included three $25 Food Lion gift cards to parents and a free meal at Goody’s Restaurant. One student in each grade (pre-K through third) received a $40 gift card to Hanes Mall, and one teacher received a $40 gift card for helping.

The successful event was highlighted in local papers and on television stations. The school plans to participate in International Walk to School Day this fall, Wallace said, and SafeKids International has a grant that will enable the school to teach more pedestrian and bicycle safety. Future support for the area has been encouraging as well, Wallace said, citing a project that Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County plans for the neighborhood in 2009. The city will remove several abandoned houses across from the school that foster crime and illicit behavior, and Habitat will build new homes in the historic neighborhood.

“It shows what you can do, if you get people involved,” Wallace said. “People need to be building these coalitions and to partner with these other groups to make the money go further.”

Contact

Judi Lawson Wallace
Winston-Salem SRTS Coordinator
judiwallace@triad.rr.com
336-768-3339