Vienna Elementary School students sure are! Each Wednesday is Walking Wednesdays for the school. One sunny, warm Wednesday in March, 194 students walked or biked! This number accounts for half the school! Only 21 percent of the students are designated by the school as walkers. Last year during the now annual Walk/Bike Challenge with other Vienna elementary schools, the highest number of student walkers/bicyclists was 122. Check out the great pictures of kids walking and parents chatting over donated coffee from local coffee shop Caffe Amouri. One especially impressive kid-wore his backpack and attached his instrument to his bike!
How to do Walking Wednesdays
It takes three parents, a supportive principal and one janitor to pull it off. One parent at the school started participating in International Walk to School Day in October 2011. He received a few small community grants to be able to purchase
colored feet, reflectors and small chains for the kids’ backpacks. Each Wednesday, kids receive a foot or on special days such as St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day, they receive a themed reflector such as a shamrock or a heart. The kids love the incentives and since they are attached to their backpacks, everyone at school can see them encouraging other kids to walk.
Two parents split the Wednesday morning logistical duties. One gets the coffee that comes with cups, the other heads straight to the school with coffee cream in hand. The feet, coffee sugar and other small supplies are stored in a box inside the school. The school janitor sets up a table outside at the designated spot. The program is year round and a note is usually put in kids’ folders at school to remind them it is Walking Wednesday.
Kids stream in for about 15-20 minutes. The two parents ask the kids if they walked or rode and then help them attach their feet or reflectors to backpacks. Many parents accompany the students and then enjoy coffee and chat. It takes less than an hour of time for the parents who organize.
The 2010-2011 School Travel Plan shows 82 children are designated walkers. A survey showed about 54 kids regularly walk or bike. The highest
count during the Walk/Bike Challenge Week was 122. On a random day in March 2012, a count was taken and 194 students walked which is 59 percent more than the best day last year.
If you would like to learn more about the Vienna Elementary School Walking Wednesday, please contact Christine Green to be put in touch with the parent leaders. Thanks to Jeff Anderson, parent at Wolftrap Elementary School for taking the photos. Check out more pictures on the Greater Washington Safe Routes to School Facebook page.
To learn more about how to implement a Safe Routes to School program, check out the archived presentations from the April 11th webinar,Local Safe Routes to School Programs: Creating a Ground Swell for Safe Routes Policy.