Fall 2011

National Center for Safe Routes to School Announces 25 Fall 2011 Mini-grant Recipients

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (August 30, 2011) — The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the selection of 25 recipients of $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 2011-2012 school year.

"The innovation of the mini-grant applications we received show how communities are tailoring programs to their unique strengths and challenges," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School (National Center). “Each community is different, and the diverse approaches represented by these communities show progress that can be made in health and well-being when creativity is coupled with community leadership and student buy-in.”

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, federal, and tribal governments to enable and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school. The National Center, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal SRTS program, received 249 eligible SRTS mini-grant applications from schools and community organizations nationwide during this fourth award cycle. Selected proposals distinguished themselves through creative approaches to increase safe walking and bicycling to school, and many highlighted student leadership.

Proposed mini-grant activities create peer mentor programs for walking safety, produce student-designed safety videos to be shown community-wide, utilize existing volunteer programs to boost oversight of children on their way to and from school, and integrate safe walking and bicycling into classroom lessons.

"Communities continue to use these mini-grants to jumpstart new programs and to build upon strategies that may already be working well,” continued Marchetti. "The community and student leadership recognized here exemplify the mindset that can lead to truly livable communities in the future.”

The selected 25 mini-grant recipient organization programs and activities include:

California

  • Animo Ralph Bunche High School (Los Angeles, Calif.) will begin a Safe Passages program called "Walk and Watch." The school’s Parent Team Captains will walk to and from the most frequented student pathways at Bunche, focusing on the routes to and from LADOT bus stops. Parent volunteers will have walkie-talkies and t-shirts to increase the safety, communication and visibility of the “Walk and Watch” program. Students and parents will receive safety and health education, and weekly healthy family workshops will be offered in both English and Spanish.
  • Rancho Cucamonga Middle School (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) will develop school-wide student-led SRTS activities that celebrate International Walk to School Month, promote mental and physical health, and encourage environmentally friendly modes of active transportation. City staff will work with Associated Student Body (ASB) leaders to teach students about the benefits of walking and bicycling. The ASB will then lead a student-designed poster contest promoting active transportation and healthy lifestyles; implement a stamp card program with incentives for frequent walking; and, during the Walk to School Month celebration, will use a bicycle to blend smoothies, which is a fun way to show how bicycling can help reduce emissions. Finally, the ASB will integrate bicycle safety education and maintenance classes into the celebration.
  • Heron School (Sacramento, Calif.) will hold bicycle training classes to improve the safety of students who bicycle to school, a number that has risen because of deep cuts in school bus funding across the district. Over the course of 10 safety classes, groups of 10 to 15 students will learn about bicycle safety, traffic rules and regulations, signage, maintenance and proper helmet use. A local police officer trained in bicycle safety will provide education as well as safety and promotional materials such as bicycle safety books and handouts, strobe headlights, reflective arm bands, and helmets for students without access to bicycle helmets.
  • Oak Ridge Elementary School and Pacific Elementary School (Sacramento, Calif.) will partner with local law enforcement to educate parents and students about SRTS. Oak Ridge Elementary will partner with local high school students to walk with Oak Ridge students along routes that connect community meeting points with the school. These routes and the meeting points will be marked on walking maps, which will be printed in both Spanish and English. Pacific Elementary’s parent group will learn ways to oversee the safety of their children walking to school. Pacific Elementary students will advertise walking safety through art and writing assignments.

Colorado

  • Heritage Elementary School (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) will utilize its Sixth Grade Ambassadors and Coordinated School Health Team to continue its commitment to health and wellness by holding a school-wide assembly that promotes walking and riding to school. The assembly will be digitally recorded for future use. The Sixth Grade Ambassadors will hold class meetings with each class in the school to discuss the benefits of walking and riding to school. Classes will create posters promoting active travel benefits. Monthly walking and biking to school results will be tracked with magnets on a dry erase board.

Florida

  • Lake Sybelia Elementary School (Maitland, Fla.) will continue the enthusiasm for its annual Walk to School Day event with a Walking School Bus (WSB) program that will run each week on Walking Wednesdays. The fifth grade patrol staff will help monitor the program, and the school’s PTA will coordinate the program as part of its Healthy School Committee agenda. WSB volunteers will go through a thorough background check and then will receive pedestrian safety training with law enforcement and safety officials. A variety of promotional items, from stickers to wristbands, will be used to boost enthusiasm for walking to school and the Lake Sybelia Walking School Bus program.
  • Hiawassee Elementary School and Robinswood Middle School (Orlando, Fla.) will start an innovative safe walking program, Walk ‘N’ Roll, which aims to increase parental involvement and community awareness along routes to school in order to reduce after-school violence. A key feature of this program engages middle school students as walking and bicycling mentors who look out for younger elementary students before and after school. The Orange County School District will partner with the Sheriff’s Department to encourage bicycling and walking with monthly walk-to-school events, bicycle safety classes, and helmet promotions.

Georgia

  • East Side Elementary School (Marietta, Ga.) will encourage student wellness by implementing the East Side Walking/Biking School Bus program. This program, led by the school’s PTA, will involve parent volunteers as leaders of a Walking/Biking School Bus. The program will equip each parent with a reflective backpack, vest, “stop/slow” sign, first aid kit, whistle, and flashlight with which to lead their Walking/Biking School Bus. Each child participant will have use of a pedometer to help understand the number of steps she/he takes during a day and to see the importance of taking steps to improve health and wellness.

Illinois

  • Sauganash Elementary School (Chicago, Ill.) will launch a year-round Move-It Monday program that encourages families to get to and from school using any active, non-motorized form of transportation, such as walking, bicycling, and riding scooters and skateboards. Sauganash students will encourage peers to participate, parents will help identify the safest routes, and volunteers will wear reflective vests on Mondays to improve participant safety and visibility. Students will also track mileage and hone their math skills by calculating calories burned, money saved on gasoline, and reductions in automotive emissions. Student, parent, and teacher participation will be videotaped, photographed, and shared using social media as a way to promote participation in the school and throughout the local community.

Massachusetts

  • Thompson School (Arlington, Mass.) will organize and promote walking school buses and bicycle trains to keep students safe and to reduce traffic at Hardy School. With a nearby school closing temporarily for the next two years, Hardy’s enrollment is set to increase. This program will try to establish a walking and biking culture for current and new Hardy families. Engaging walking and bicycling brochures with safe route maps will be given out to every family. Parents and students will develop educational and promotional materials such as signs, bicycle flags, fliers and stickers. In addition, students will have access to bicycle helmets and safety vests as needed.
  • A.C. Whelan Elementary School (Revere, Mass.) students and faculty will expand the popular Whelan Walk to School Day event into a weekly Walking School Bus program that occurs each Wednesday. In partnership with the City of Revere’s Senior Citizen’s League of Volunteers, the school will place senior volunteers at the same Walking School Bus stop each week in order to create a sense of security with Whelan families. In preparation, the school will provide senior volunteers with pedestrian safety training, reflective vests, handheld stop signs, and pedestrian flags. Whelan’s students will also contribute in several ways: the Green Team will count the number of cars used to drop off students, the Walking Club will track participation in the weekly walking program, and students will mark Walking School Bus stops with unique logos.

Michigan

  • Sandy Knoll Elementary School (Marquette, Mich.) will kick off its SRTS program with a Walk-and-Roll to School Day event and meeting that introduces students and parents to the Sandy Knoll year-round safe routes program. Because Marquette receives an average of 130 inches of snow per year, the meeting will highlight a map of the sidewalks and roads that will be shoveled and plowed specifically in order to allow students to walk and bicycle to school throughout the winter. The goal of this effort is to provide continuous snow removal on sidewalks with the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost to residents living along the SRTS path. The resulting program will greatly improve the implementation success of the SRTS program at Sandy Knoll Elementary.

Minnesota

  • Virginia Junior High School (Virginia, Minn.) will purchase two 20-capacity bicycle racks and materials for student-created encouragement posters at the school. The Green Club, a student-led group, will encourage fellow students to ride bicycles via marketing efforts and partnering with a local bicycle shop to offer students a discount. The Club will also organize, promote, and evaluate the weekly ride to school program, Wheeling Wednesdays, and will monitor rack use throughout the fall by counting the number of bicycles ridden each day. Students will conclude the project by developing a report that looks at travel mode change with the installation of the racks and promotion of the weekly ride to school event.

New Jersey

  • Bay Head School (Bay Head, N.J.) will build on the momentum of its weekly Walking Wednesdays program by organizing a supervised Walking Bus. The Walking Bus will start at the Bay Head town center and pick up students along the way to school. The Walking Bus will be led by a special guest, chaperoned by volunteer parents, and assisted by Student Council leaders. This program is intended to meet the needs of students that live both near and far, with a drop-off and walk feature for students who live further away. Walking and bicyling will also be integrated into the Bay Head subject curriculum for math, English and social studies.
  • North Plainfield School District (North Plainfield, N.J.) will boost SRTS outreach to parents and students by developing a web-based video to promote the program and its benefits to the North Plainfield community. The SRTS program’s goal is to increase parental involvement as hosts for Walking School Bus programs located at schools throughout the district. Students will research topic areas for the video and will be involved in the rough cut process. Once developed, the school district plans to distribute the video through the local community access cable station as well as on the school, district, and RideWise TMA websites.

New Mexico

  • Ladera Elementary School (Farmington, N.M.) will develop a “No Phone Zone” at the school in order to reduce distracted driving and promote a safer walking and bicycling environment. Ladera students will create a safe driver contract asking drivers to pledge not to text or talk when driving within a half-mile to a one-mile radius of the school. In order to gain support for the “No Phone Zone,” the students will present their plan to the Farmington City Council. A school-wide distracted driving poster contest will be held to market the program, and the winning poster image will be placed on a school banner and window stickers. Ladera Elementary officials hope that their pilot program will be implemented at other elementary schools in the school district.
  • Aspen Elementary School (Los Alamos, N.M.) students will produce an informational and entertaining short film about Aspen Elementary’s SRTS program that will be shown during the pre-show at Los Alamos’ Reel Deal Theatre. The cinema is the only movie theater in this rural community and is a popular destination for many residents. Students will produce the informational film, creating props and sets and acting and speaking in the movie. Reel Deal staff and Los Alamos Public Access TV technicians will provide production assistance and direction. The program will increase student, parent, and community awareness of and participation in Walk to School Day 2011. Also, it will provide public education on the benefits of regularly walking and rolling to school.
  • Maggie Cordova Elementary School (Rio Rancho, N.M.) will implement the “Walkin-n-Wheelin Wednesday” program that creates a Walking School Bus to help students walk and bicycle to school from a nearby neighborhood. One location will serve as a drop-and-walk option for students who live further away as well as a meeting point for those who live close by. The New Mexico State SRTS Coordinator will provide volunteers with Walking School Bus training. Volunteers will direct students from the meeting location to the school, and a crossing guard will help children safely cross a busy street along the route. Furthermore, a newly installed bicycle rack will allow students to lock up their bicycles once they arrive at school.

North Dakota

  • Carl Ben Eielsen Middle School (Fargo, N.D.) will begin “Bruin Bike Buddies,” a high school-middle school bicycling safety mentoring program between the Fargo South High School Bicycle Club and Carl Ben Eielsen Middle School Bicycle Club. High school students in grades nine to 12 will be paired with middle school students in grades six to eight. High school bicycle club members will "adopt" the middle school bicycle club members as their Bruin Bike Buddies in the fall semester of 2011. Bruin Bike Buddies will participate in weekly meetings. Activities will include bicycle safety training based on the League of American Bicyclists "Smart Cyclist" curriculum; equipping middle school students with bicycle safety gear; distributing safe cycling materials from the League of American Bicyclists; and group bicycle rides.

Oklahoma

  • Maryetta School (Stillwell, Okla.) will engage students in rolling out their “Hike-n-Bike” program, which promotes active travel to school. After receiving safety education from a qualified Oklahoma SafeCyclist teacher, students will design a brochure that includes a safe routes map and list of activities. They will also create speeding, pedestrian crosswalk, and “No Cell Zone” alerts for parents on the school’s website and social media networks. Sixth grade students will mentor younger students in walking and bicycling safety, and physical education teachers will use bicycle and pedestrian safety curriculum in their P.E. classes. School officials will also be re-striping adjacent crosswalks and will install crosswalk signs and a new bicycle rack.

Pennsylvania

  • Willard Elementary (Philadelphia, Pa.) will provide pedestrian safety education for the entire school using Safe Route Philly’s curriculum. The school will start a Walking School Bus with two routes to increase safety and physical activity while decreasing student tardiness. The program will rely on volunteers: parents will use the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center’s Walkability Checklist to identify route improvements, and teachers will use Safe Route Philly’s Eye Spy Neighborhood Walk lesson plan to engage students in a community walkability audit. Students will create posters that raise awareness about pedestrian safety and the environmental and health benefits of walking. Students will also track active transportation participants in each class, and the results will be logged through Safe Route Philly’s online database.

Texas

  • Zavala Elementary School (Austin, Texas) will provide students with the opportunity to take part in a four-week course where they learn how to ride and maintain bicycles as well as serve the community as safe route leaders. School officials hope to continue increasing the number of Zavala students who ride to school, which has grown from six to over 90 in just a few years. The school fosters a bicycle friendly environment through encouragement initiatives like Zavala’s Bike Club and the weekly “Walk and Bike Wednesday” event through the Zavala SRTS program. Zavala Bike Club students also enjoy weekly afternoon rides and Saturday morning bicycle rides, and participants receive a club t-shirt as part of the four week course training.

Virginia

  • Galax Elementary School and Galax Middle School (Galax, Va.) will use the upcoming Bike Rodeo, bicycle training program, and Walk to School Day 2011 event to kick off the Galax SRTS program. With support from stakeholders throughout the community, Galax will target increasing walking and bicycling rates in kindergarten through eighth grades. Increasing youth physical activity is the primary focus of the Galax program, and this comprehensive approach emphasizes the strong relationships between community members and organizations in this rural community. Bicycle helmets and reflective equipment will be used during the Bike Rodeo and the in-school bicycle riding and training program, in which all middle school students will participate.

West Virginia

  • Northview Elementary (Clarksburg, W.Va.) will link its school patrol program with Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) to create a presence throughout the neighborhood and to improve child pedestrian safety. With additional eyes on the street, the likelihood increases that someone will be watching when students are walking to and from school. The patrol program will be an ongoing program. The school will add weekly enforcement patrols through the VIPS program to provide added enforcement in the morning when students are arriving at school and in the evening when students are heading home. Reflective equipment and SRTS T-shirts will improve the safety and visibility of the program in the Clarksburg community.

Wisconsin

  • St. Croix Falls Elementary School and St. Croix Falls Middle School (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) will support its student leadership team in the creation of safe routes for students to walk and bicycle to school. Students will: serve as crossing guards and walking buddies; educate younger students through peer educator programs, such as the High School Clowns; and help develop safe route maps and promotional materials. Students will conduct walkability and bikeability analyses of potential routes throughout the area and will present their findings to community groups in an effort to reduce barriers. St. Croix’s team will designate safe routes by posting signs and flashing lights, using paint to mark walk and bicycle lanes on campus and surrounding city roads, and creating more crosswalks on main roads that connect residential areas to the K-12 campus.