On October 3, 2012, over 40 countries participated in International Walk to School Day. Locally, Santa Clara Safe Routes to School worked with five schools in an effort to reduce traffic congestion, bring awareness to walkable communities, and start an active lifestyle by walking or biking to school. Students were encouraged to use active transportation to get to school by walking, riding a bicycle, or using a scooter. Once at school, they were offered rewards to recognize their positive efforts.
At Cabrillo Middle School, Santa Clara Safe Routes to School hosted the largest event in the city, with hundreds of participants. The effort was led by Mary Ann Bowles, the leadership teacher, and her 25 superb students. The class made posters to advertise the event a week earlier and worked together to plan the details and coordination of the big morning. Planning consisted of finding students to run the three event tables, students to recognize those that participated, and students to pump up the energy with tunes!
On the morning of the big event the leadership team met at 7:00 am to get things running. Posters and balloons decorated the courtyard along with a 'Map Your Route' table for students to show where they walked or biked from, a refreshments table provided participants with a snack and a beverage to refuel and rehydrate, and a prize table represented the rewards students could win in the drawing. To ensure the participants were telling the truth, four groups of leadership students were positioned around the boundaries of the school to give the real participants a hand stamp and raffle ticket. The hand stamp allowed students to get a snack and drink while the raffle ticket allowed them to be entered in the drawing. The energy level was high that morning as students arrived to lively music and activities for them to partake in. The event went off without a hitch and we look forward to working with the middle school on future events.
The Santa Clara elementary schools that participated include Briarwood, Bowers, Montague, and Haman. At each of these schools, Santa Clara SR2S hosted a Hydration Station and Travel Tally Chart. The Hydration Station included apple juice, water, clementines, and stickers for students who participated either by walking or rolling (bicycling, scootering), and rode took the bus (because they potentially live too far to walk/roll). The Travel Tally Chart had five modes of transportation to choose from: Walking, Rolling, Bus or Transit, Car, or Carpool. Students were asked to place a sticker dot based on how they arrived at school.
Overall, it was a successful event in promoting walking and biking to school. It opened many students’ eyes to the large proportion of students that drive to school. Recognizing those who opt for active modes of transportation is encouraging for the students who drove to school.