Farmington, N.H., is a close-knit rural community with almost 7,000 residents. Valley View Community School and Henry Wilson Memorial School are located in town and serve approximately 975 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Some of the parents of these students expressed concern that many neighborhoods did not have the necessary sidewalks and marked crosswalks to provide children with a safer route for walking or bicycling to school. In response to such concerns, law enforcement officers and school personnel worked together to design a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program that addressed the concerns of the parents.
Upon receiving a grant from the state of New Hampshire in 2004, the design of a SRTS program came to realization with the construction of the Tiger Trail. Named after the schools’ mascot, the Tiger Trail connects the neighborhoods to the elementary schools. The path, marked with paw prints and signage, guides children to school along a safer route that is easy to walk. Currently, SRTS program leaders are working to establish walking clubs to further increase the use and safety of the trail.
Although the Tiger Trail is the foundation of the SRTS program, many other elements contribute to the program’s success. The schools have a school resource officer who is in charge of enforcing the schools’ SRTS initiatives and providing safety education at school assembles. The SRTS program uses walking school buses along the Tiger Trail to encourage more students and parents to walk to school. Also, the program’s success is evaluated by the number of children walking to school, measured with the help of yearly parent surveys and student tallies.
Since the construction of the Tiger Trail, the SRTS program leaders have noticed increasing numbers of children walking to school. Parents enjoy the Tiger Trail because it solves many of their safety concerns, while the children enjoy the opportunity to be outside. The SRTS program leaders hope to use the initial success of the Tiger Trail and the other elements of the SRTS program to secure more funding to expand the program and to continue the Tiger Trail for many years.
Farmington Community Preservation Guild
Phone: (603) 755-2456