Spring 2011

25 Mini-Grants Awarded to Launch Creative Ideas for Safe Walking and Bicycling to School

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (January 27, 2011) — The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the selection of 25 recipients who have been awarded $1,000 mini-grants for projects designed to encourage safe walking and bicycling to and from school. The mini-grant activities, many of which are driven by student leadership, will occur during the spring semester of the 2010-2011 school year.

"We continue to be impressed by the innovation and creativity of the mini-grant applications we receive," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “Communities nationwide are tailoring walking and bicycling to school programs to address their unique needs, and that customization and attention to detail is what will sustain these efforts to improve safety and promote an active trip to school in the future.”

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, federal and Tribal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to and from school. The National Center, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal SRTS program, received 304 eligible mini-grant applications from across the country in this third round of awards. Selected proposals distinguished themselves through their commitment and creative approaches to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to and from school.

Proposed mini-grant activities identified ways in which SRTS programs can address school and community priorities such as the need to be physically active, concern for the environment, personal security, accessibility, and community building. In addition to developing adult-led student walking groups - also known as walking school buses - and teaching bicycle mechanics and maintenance, recipients plan to address concerns about crime and personal security and to engage students of all abilities to participate in safe walking and bicycling activities.

"The community support and student leadership recognized in these projects will strengthen SRTS efforts across the country and help establish active lifestyles and communities for the future," Marchetti continued.

The selected 25 mini-grant recipient organization programs and activities include, listed by state:

California

  • McKinley Elementary School (San Jose, Calif.) will benefit from a paved walkway and safety fence coordinated by the Bonita Neighborhood Association with matching funding from other sources. The paved walkway will enable students and members of the neighborhood to use the pathway year-round, and the safety fence will separate students from a nearby freeway ramp.
  • Kennedy, Santee and McKinley Elementary Schools and Bridges Middle School (San Jose, Calif.), in collaboration with the City of San Jose Strong Neighborhoods Initiative , will address parental concerns about crime by expanding its Safe and Strong Neighborhood Passage program. This program trains community volunteers to watch for criminal behavior and to alert walking groups and authorities if such activity occurs.
  • Walton Special Center (Stockton, Calif.) will purchase portable pedestrian safety and accessibility equipment to enable students with disabilities to explore their community and be active. Outings help students refine pedestrian, safety, and motor skills as well as their community and social skills. Specifically, portable wheelchair ramps, safety cones, hand-held stop signs, caution signs, and reflective vests will be used in areas in nearby urban Stockton that are currently inaccessible.

Colorado

  • Heatherwood Elementary (Boulder, Colo.) will expand its existing SRTS program to better involve students of all abilities. Children with disabilities currently represent approximately 16 percent of the school’s population. A local expert will help show these students and their families how these children can participate in the school’s Walk and Roll to School events on low-frame tricycles, bicycles and tandems. The school will also purchase a low-frame tricycle for ongoing use. This program will not only provide ways for students with disabilities to build life skills and confidence on active trips to school, but will also allow the entire student population to enjoy increased participation and engagement in the school’s events.
  • Swansea Elementary (Denver, Colo.) will install fencing and bicycle racks to provide a secure place for students to park their bicycles at school in response to student concerns about possible bicycle theft. The school will continue its existing bicycle and pedestrian education and encouragement efforts.
  • Columbine Elementary (Longmont, Colo.) will expand its Bike Club safety activities by providing club members with bicycle helmets and new educational materials as part of its goal for students to ride safely 100 percent of the time. A new bicycle rack also will help alleviate a bicycle parking problem that has resulted from increased popularity of bicycling to school.

Kentucky

  • Burgin Elementary, Burgin Middle and Burgin High Schools (Burgin, Ky.) will develop a quarter-mile walking track with exercise stations that provides a new entrance to the school campus of Burgin Independent Schools. Developed in partnership with a community member, the track will also be available for the rest of the community to use after school hours. A new bicycle rack, bicycle locks, reflective strips and other safety equipment will be available to encourage bicycling to school, and a bike rodeo will kick off the initiative. After-school clubs at each school that are participating in the national anti-obesity Let’s Move! Initiative (www.letsmove.gov) , will receive pedometers to track mileage and practice corresponding math skills. Middle school club participants will also complete walkability and bikeability assessments of the area surrounding the campus.
  • Indian Trail Elementary (Louisville, Ky.) will support its student-conceived and student-run bike shop by purchasing additional bicycle helmets, bicycles, signs and bicycle maintenance equipment. The bike shop enables hands-on learning for students who want to become safe bicyclists, as well as how to repair and maintain a safe bicycle. The fifth-grade student leading the effort is also partnering with a local non-profit to provide educational training to the bike shop’s participants.

Louisiana

  • James Weldon Johnson Elementary School (New Orleans, La.) will create a walking school bus program that will be supported by Louisiana Retired Teacher Association volunteers and the Hollygrove Walking Club members. Johnson Elementary School’s walking school buses will be used for field trips as well as getting to and from school. Volunteer leaders will receive first aid training and reflective safety vests and will participate in walking field trips. Taking personal security into account, walking and bicycling route suggestions will be mapped.

Massachusetts

  • Stall Brook Elementary School (Bellingham, Mass.), in conjunction with the Town of Bellingham Planning Department and the Hockomock Area YMCA, Bernon Family Branch , will add signs and make safety improvements to the 1.2 mile walking route that reroutes students away from a busy state highway. Crosswalks will be repainted, and walking school bus volunteers will participate in a train-the-trainer program and will wear safety vests and provide walkers with reflective bands to increase visibility.
  • Heights Elementary School (Sharon, Mass.) will boost its existing “Stepping to New Heights” program by adding new signage in the school to educate students about the distance to school based on numbers of steps traveled. A school-wide challenge will encourage students to track steps and identify safety issues they spot on their routes.

Maryland

  • Mount Washington Elementary School (Baltimore, Md.) , through its student Green Club, will promote and coordinate a “Six Summits Challenge” throughout the very hilly neighborhood surrounding the school. Club members, students and families will walk to the top of the six hills in the community. The challenge will highlight benefits of physical activity for families, and additional information will promote the existing walking school bus routes.

Michigan

  • Horizon Elementary (Holt, Mich.) will expand its existing walking school bus program by adding new drop-off sites and signage. Additionally, bicycle locks will be available for students on loan. This security measure will complement an existing program that provides bicycles and helmets to students who actively participate in the school’s walking and bicycling activities.

Montana

  • Highland Elementary School Parent Teacher Student Association (Billings, Mont.) will bolster its existing program with a student-developed video that documents why family members walked or bicycled to school and what they learned along the way. This video will be used to educate local decision-makers and community members about the effects of school siting policies in hopes of establishing a local policy that supports locating schools as close as possible to where their students live. The school will also have a poster contest that highlights how students can safely walk and bicycle to school.

North Carolina

  • Winstead Elementary School (Wilson, N.C.) and the City of Wilson will develop safety education materials for students. They will also establish a Safe Porches program to support students who will walk or bicycle to school and to build a sense of community in the neighborhood. Volunteers will commit to watching over the street outside their homes as students travel to and from school.

New Mexico

  • Roots and Wings Community School (Questa, N.M.) will purchase safety vests and crossing signs to increase visibility and safety of students and walking school bus leaders. Through a student service-learning program, the school will also build a trail that will enable students to be off the roadside as they walk to school. Additionally, the trail will create a safer waiting place at the public bus stop that most students of this rural school use.

Oklahoma

  • McKinley Elementary (Tulsa, Okla.) has a student population that lives entirely within a 1.5 mile radius of the school. Organizers at the school are starting an after-school Walking School Bus Club to accustom students to walking in the neighborhood. Teacher and parent volunteers will wear reflective vests, and signs will increase the Club’s visibility and safety. Club members will use pedometers to increase awareness of the amount of physical activity they gain. Volunteers will also track bullying incidents, which have been an issue for students walking home from school in the past, and surveys will track parents’ and students’ perceptions before and after the club is implemented.
  • Kendall-Whittier, Marshall, Rosa Parks, Owen, McClure, Mark Twain and Robertson Community Elementary Schools (Tulsa, Okla.) will partner with the Tulsa Hub Syndicate to bring its bilingual after-school bicycle clubs to these schools in metropolitan Tulsa. The after-school clubs teach students that bicycles are vehicles, engage students in physical activity and safety education, provide an opportunity for students to earn bicycle helmets, allow students to practice bicycle handling skills, and teach students bicycle mechanics. The Tulsa Hub Syndicate will also work to ensure that the bicycle clubs are self-sustaining.

Oregon

  • Dexter McCarty Middle School (Gresham, Ore.) will expand activities of its Wheelz Bicycle Club to include classes in basic bicycle maintenance. Club members will use bicycle maintenance equipment to work on their own bicycles and to repair donated bicycles that will either be sold to raise money either for the club or will be given to less fortunate children in the community. Wheelz members will also teach bicycle skills and mentor other students. Empowered with new bicycle maintenance skills, the hope is that Wheelz members will offer local bicycle repair services in their apartment complexes and neighborhoods.
  • Warm Springs Elementary School (Madras, Ore.) is located on Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and the Tribal community wants to reduce speeding and improve yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. The community will develop a media campaign to raise awareness about safety and will hire a crossing guard trainer for both adult and high-school-aged crossing guard volunteers.
  • The Emerson School (Portland, Ore.), located in downtown central Portland, will establish a three-pronged approach to enable its elementary students, many of whom have long commutes, to use alternative transportation to get to school. It will establish a walking school bus, create “Emerson Tri-Met Trekkers” public transit groups, and expand their existing bicycle train program. Reflective vests, signs and bicycle lights will increase visibility and safety of students, and transit tickets will be purchased for student and chaperone “Trekkers” to use public transit to get to school.
  • Boones Ferry Primary School and Inza R. Wood Middle School (Wilsonville, Ore.) will work with West Linn-Wilsonville School District’s Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies (CREST) to develop bicycle trains. CREST will purchase bicycle maintenance tools so that parents, teachers and volunteers can teach students about bicycle maintenance, and teachers can provide bicycle safety instruction. CREST will also purchase safety vests for riders in the bicycle trains so that they will be more visible.

South Carolina

  • Blythe Academy of Languages (Greenville, S.C.) aims to improve safety at a busy intersection where students have limited space to wait to cross the street. The school will provide safety vests for staff at the intersection, signs for safety patrols to keep students back from the curb, and safety cones and new school crossing signs to create a visible barrier between traffic and students. Educational materials will also be distributed, and special walk to school days will be publicized and promoted.

Washington

  • White Center Heights Elementary (Seattle, Wash.) and King County Food and Fitness Initiative will generate excitement about safe walking and biking to school at a community night. Families will learn about safety and how to advocate for safer neighborhoods. Students and families will receive safety equipment that will help to make them more visible. A month of safe routes activities will coincide with Bike to School Month. These efforts are in response to an increase in child safety concerns and car pick-up and drop-off from parents, after a student pedestrian was hit by a motor vehicle.

Wisconsin

  • Thurston Woods Campus School (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Agape Community Center will begin a walking school bus program. They will use signage and maps to identify walking and bicycling routes and to raise awareness about the program. They will conduct bicycle safety training, install a bicycle rack, and coordinate helmet donations and distributions.

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