Thanks to the efforts of one energetic parent, Ira B. Jones Elementary School in Asheville, N.C., has been participating in International Walk to School Day for a number of years. Since the event’s inception in 2004, the event has evolved from a yearly event to a biannual event and then to a monthly “Walking and Wheeling” or “Strive Not to Drive” event.
For the Walk to School events at Jones Elementary, walkers meet at a designated meeting place and then walk to school together. Once they arrive at school, walkers are rewarded with pencils, erasers and other prizes that are donated by a local business. Walkers are also treated to snacks such as bagels, which are donated by the parent who organize the events.
Because of the walking encouragement events at Jones Elementary, interest in walking and bicycling has grown. In general, the environment around the school is friendly for walking and bicycling, but recently there have been some improvements to make walking and bicycling even better. Conversations between one of the school’s parents and the city engineer have resulted in the improvement of school zone signs around the school. Last year, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) worked with a local bicycle shop to purchase a bicycle rack for the school. The PTO was able to purchase the rack at the bicycle shop’s cost, minimizing the expenditure of PTO funds.
The encouragement activities at Jones Elementary have resulted in an increased number of walkers throughout the school year, despite the fact that the school is a magnet school and only a small percentage of students live close enough to walk. Excitement about walking and bicycling continues to grow at the school. All of this has been made possible due to the passion and commitment of a single parent.
Parent, Healthy Living Chair for the Ira B. Jones Elementary School PTO