Get Ready to Win in May!

We’re going to let you in on a secret. We ran the numbers from last year, and schools in the Greater Washington D.C. region have a great chance of winning a May 1-30 Fire Up Your Feet Spring Activity Challenge award.

The Fire Up Your Feet Program helps encourage families, students and schools to work together and create active lifestyles which inspire our children to be healthy and physically active. You can easily register on the Fire Up Your Feet, track your physical activity and earn awards.

Here are some ideas to help you tip the balance in your favor this spring.

  1. Ask five friends to sign up. Check out this video interview with Shonda Mosby, PTA President and Fire Up Your Feet Champion from Ardenwood Elementary School, who explains her strategy for getting families to register, participate and help win a $1,000 Challenge Award for their school last fall.
  2. Set up a Fire Up Your Feet signup table after school where families can easily sign up.
  3. Does your school have a walking school bus or group of families who already walk or bicycle to school? Send an email to families in your group or neighborhood letting them know about Fire Up Your Feet and your school’s good chances of winning an award.Get just 5 or 10 more families at your school to do the same, and your school could take home an award this spring. Even better, our new Coordinator Toolkit and Spanish materials make district or community participation a snap!

Now that we’ve let the cat out of the bag, make this secret be known throughout your school. Getting just a few more families to register today could easily mean victory for your school tomorrow.

Crosswalk simulation activity

Takoma Park Safe Routes to School Coordinator Lucy Neher is becoming quite well known for her cross walk simulation activity. Check out my account of attend the activity myself.  After her presentation at the regional meeting, she has been fielding lots of calls and questions asking for more information.

Lucy Neher explains the activity to Takoma Park students.

Lucy Neher explains the activity to Takoma Park students.

I thought I would share a video of her crosswalk simulation activity so everyone could see it. There are some cute kid quotes at the end! Thanks Lucy for sharing your expertise!

Takoma Park Safe Routes to School Crosswalk Simulation Activity

Mark your calendar

Maryland

Bike Maryland 17th Annual Bicycle Symposium
Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD
February 11th 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Registration

Check out the afternoon presentation on Safe Routes To School by James Elliott of Virginia’s Department of Transportation and Jessica Silwick, Transportation Alternatives Manager at State Highway Administration, and Lucy Neher, Coordinator of Safe Routes to School in Takoma Park.

Virginia

Webinar: Safe Routes to School in Small Towns
February 5th 12:30 p.m.

Registration

Webinar will discuss the challenges to encouraging and adapting Safe Routes to School for small towns. Berryville and Galax, VA will share their experiences.

Walkabout Mini-Grants are now available

The walkabout is an excellent opportunity for community stakeholders to experience pedestrian and bicycle conditions, share perspectives, and build consensus around potential solutions. The walkabout report will include a description of the conditions observed during the walkabout and photos. Recommended infrastructure improvements may also be included in the report, if the applicant intends to apply for a specific funding opportunity.

Walkabout Mini-Grant Application

National

Webinar: Bicycle Safety Education: Implement the Best Curricula for Your Community
February 20th 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Registration

Sometimes teaching bicycle safety can feel like rocket science. Between balancing the competing needs of scheduling available classroom time, checking off necessary safety skills, training educators and securing a bike fleet and equipment – choosing and implementing the best curriculum for your community can start to feel overwhelming. Join us as we talk about the important components of bicycle safety curricula and help attendees think through what might be best for their programs.

 

It is fun to walk to school in Port Towns

It is hard to believe that just two months ago was Walk to School Day. As the weather gets colder, it is important to remember that kids have FUN when walking and bicycling to school as we see here at Rogers Heights Elementary School in the Port Towns. Check out the great Walk to School Day event and don’t let the weather deprive your kids of the joy of walking and bicycling to school!

This Walk to School Day event was a great partnership between the Port Towns Youth Council Wellness Ambassadors, Rogers Heights Elementary School, Kaiser Permanente and the Town of Bladensburg.

Rogers Heights Elementary School is 100% bused so students were dropped off down the street at the high school.

Rogers Heights Elementary School is 100% bused so students were dropped off down the street at the high school. Wellness Ambassadors greeted the students as they stepped off the buses. Parents also came with their students to the high school to walk.

Thanks to the Wellness Ambassadors, high school students who got out of bed early to walk with the Rogers Heights students!

Thanks to the Wellness Ambassadors who got out of bed early to walk with the Rogers Heights students! The Wellness Ambassadors are high school students (in green shirts) participating in the Port Towns Youth Council.

Students made signs about walking for health!

Students made signs about walking for health! The principal and teachers were all very excited about Walk to School Day and worked with the students to get them ready!

And we are off! Students walk to school with Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James, Jr.

And we are off! Students walk to school with Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James, Jr. You can’t see them but Town of Bladensburg Police provided an escort to ensure safety.

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Once at school, the students were greeted by Olympic Champion Dominique Dawes.

The Kaiser Permanente Super Weevil taught students about pedestrian safety through an interactive game.

The Kaiser Permanente Super Weevil taught students about pedestrian safety through an interactive game.

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Look at the smiling faces! Now is the time to start planning for your walk and bike to school event in the spring!

Thanks to Brittney Drakeford of End Times Harvest Ministries for all the great pictures!

Honored with FABB Appreciation Award

On November 2nd bicycle advocates in Fairfax County, Virginia came together for the second Fairfax Bike Summit hosted by the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB). The discussion focused on Tysons Corner, the rapidly redeveloping portion of the county which is reinventing itself as a multimodal neighborhood.

I was honored to be presented with the FABB Appreciation Award for my work in the county on Safe Routes to School. I am really proud to be part of the movement in this county. And while my name is on the award, my work is supported by a group of dedicated advocates and parents who work tirelessly to ensure kids can safely walk and bicycle to school and in their community. The school system, the 11th largest in the county, recently furthered their support of Safe Routes to School with a successful grant application for a Safe Routes to School coordinator. The momentum in is moving forward fast and I thank the Fairfax community for embracing Safe Routes to School.

Christine Green receiving her award. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Christine Green receiving her award. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

And as I could still feel the excitement from the honor, I attended a session and met third-grader Aurora Eddy. She reminded me that even when the going gets tough, this is why I do what I do. She bikes the 5 miles to school each day with her mom and little brother. They have a saying in their house: “there is no bad weather, just bad gear.”

Third grader Aurora Eddy presenting on riding her bike to school. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Third grader Aurora Eddy presents on riding her bike to school. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

Aurora was on a panel about biking to school and with kids. She let us know that biking gets her places in a really fun way, that sometimes you see a very cool bug on the way to school, that riding up hills makes her feel big and strong and that there should be a bike center near the school kiss and ride so the kids that bike can meet up and hang out. Her final message was to parents- show the kids that you care about what they are doing when they are learning to ride a bike and they will be more into riding a bike.

When I accepted my award, Jeff Anderson, parent Safe Routes to School coordinator, made me promise to never drive my son to school. And to Aurora, I promise that when he starts to ride a bike, I will show him that I care so he can find cool bugs on the way to school too.

This blog is cross-posted from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership blog.

Give input! Complete our stakeholder survey

You have until this Friday to help us by providing your insights on the Greater Washington DC Region Safe Routes to School Network efforts. Please fill out our annual survey: 2013 Greater Washington Network Survey

The goal of the Greater Washington DC Region Safe Routes to School Network is to build partnerships and leverage resources in the region to improve policies and the built environment to support increases in physical activity through walking and bicycling to school and in daily life. Thank you for your support!

Survey Link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SRTSNPGrWa

Holiday Bike Donation

The Community for Helping Others in Fairfax County is accepting donations of gently used, good riding condition bicycles for children. They will be given as gifts during the holiday season.

You can drop bicycles off this Saturday, November 16th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bikes@Vienna, 128-A Church St NW or Antioch Christian Church, 1860 Beulah Road.

More information is available on their flyer.

Regional Meeting Wrap-Up

October 29th was the first Safe Routes to School Regional Meeting. The Greater Washington network co-hosted with the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board Bicycle and Pedestrian subcommittee.

It was a huge success  with over 70 people in attendance including parents, health professionals, educators, transportation professionals, advocates and all current Safe Routes to School coordinators. We were also joined by the Safe Routes to School state coordinators from DC, Maryland and Virginia.

More details and photos to follow. For now, there were a few follow up items I wanted to make available to everyone.

Meeting presentations are now posted. For those who would like more information on current Safe Routes to School programs, please see our Best Practices page.

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Vienna wins the Vienna v. Reston Walk to School Day Challenge

Over 3,000 Walk or Bicycle to School

The numbers out of Vienna and Reston in Fairfax County are amazing! 3,291 students walked, biked or scooted to school yesterday on International Walk to School Day! These awesome numbers are due to a friendly competition between the Vienna and Reston schools.IMG_3274

Vienna squeaked out the win with 1,677 students walking and bicycling and Reston came in just 63 students shy of the Vienna numbers with 1,614 students walking or bicycling.

16 schools, eight in each community participated. Vienna Elementary School has the highest percentage of participants in Vienna with 68 percent of the school walking or bicycling. In Reston, Forest Edge has the highest percentage of participants with 48 percent of students participating.

Word got out about Vienna’s annual Bike/Walk Challenge in the spring and as more Reston schools began to participate in Walk and Bike to School Day, parents began to collaborate and a challenge was declared. Walk to School Days in both Vienna and Reston were parent driven with support of the schools and PTAs. This is a great example of how enthusiasm and a few parents can spread and change the way students travel to school. At least one school, Lake Anne, is reporting they will continue their efforts after Walk to School Day with a monthly event.

Congrats to both communities for their commitment to the students health and of course, FUN!

The Fairfax Safe Routes to School Facebook page has more pictures and numbers. For more information on the Vienna schools Safe Routes to School movement, check out our case study.

Get ready: Fall Activity Challenge!

October 1 is right around the corner and the Fire Up Your Feet Fall Activity Challenge kicks off in less then a week! If you haven’t done so already, register and start tracking now to learn more about the updated features of our easy-to-use Activity Tracker and Fire Up Your Feet promotional resources, including customizable parent letters, newsletter blasts and updated posters.

Follow in the Fiery Footsteps of Iliahi Elementary

Since the Challenge runs throughout the month of October, you have plenty of time to get your community Fired Up. In fact, during our 2013 Spring Activity Challenge, Hawaii Fire Up Your Feet Challenge winner Iliahi Elementary was able to get the word out in less than two weeks! Thanks to the leadership of one motivated coordinator, Special Education Teacher and School Wellness Chairperson Jon Acohido, 55 students, parents and staff registered. Fire Up Your Feet materials were posted on the parent and school bulletin board and staff were sent out daily activity reminders, even starting a walking club that met twice a week!

Ignite your imagination

Iliahi used their award to purchase health curriculums and other materials. Image what a Fire Up Your Feet Challenge Award could be used for in your school community. Feet charms or stickers for monthly or weekly Walk to School Day participants? A healthy field trip? zumba classes, or to host a local chef to demonstrate healthy snack preparation at a parent night? Follow Iliahi’s example and spread the word about how easy it is to promote 60 minutes of daily energetic movement with Fire Up Your Feet.

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