Huntingdon, Tennessee: Huntingdon schools focus on safe sidewalks

Introduction

Huntingdon is a small town in a rural community in Carroll County, Tenn., that is working with Huntingdon Primary School, a kindergarten through third grade school, and Huntingdon Middle School, a fourth through eighth grade school, to create a safer pedestrian and bicycle environment for its children. The schools are less than one mile from each another in downtown Huntingdon. In fall 2007, the State of Tennessee, through the Tennessee Department of Transportation, awarded $250,000 in federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds to the Town of Huntingdon for Huntingdon Primary and Huntingdon Middle. With this grant money, the Town of Huntingdon will construct sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible ramps and mark crosswalks near Huntingdon Primary School and Huntingdon Middle School.

Activities

The sidewalk construction will begin in 2008 and must be completed before 2009. After its installation, more than 50 percent of the students will have a safer pedestrian and bicycle route to school. While the schools are waiting for the sidewalk construction to be completed, both Huntingdon Primary and Huntingdon Middle have implemented their own SRTS encouragement and education activities.

Since 2005, Huntingdon Primary has held a Walk to School Day in October to promote the health and environmental benefits of walking to school. To provide an opportunity for many of the students who live too far from school to walk, the school established a designated location a few blocks from school. Parents and the school buses can drop off the students at this location, and from there the students and parent volunteers walk or bicycle to school. Those students who live within walking distance also walk with parents from their house to school, or they are dropped off at the designated location if their parents cannot walk with them. Upon their arrival, the students’ hands are stamped by the teachers, and they receive t-shirts donated by a group of local physicians. At the last Walk to School Day in October 2007, 385 of the 400 students participated. In addition to the yearly Walk to School Day activities, several of the teachers greet the arriving children at the school’s entrance most mornings and lead them in a short walk around the school before classes begin.

Huntingdon Primary also promotes bicycle safety through a bicycle safety program designed for all of its grades, in which the physical education teacher and volunteers from the local bicycle club, discuss different aspects of bicycle safety, such as where and how to ride a bicycle safely and the importance of wearing a helmet. This program is for both the elementary and the middle school students.

As the students transition from primary to middle school, the teachers at Huntingdon Primary organize a field- trip walk in which the school’s graduates walk the less than 1 mile distance between Huntingdon Primary and Huntingdon Middle to familiarize themselves with the school route.

Huntingdon Middle also participates in SRTS activities to promote both pedestrian and bicycle safety. One such event is the Blue Cross Blue Shield WalkingWorks for School, a program that encourages the students to walk to school. There is also a Bicycle Safety event sponsored by volunteer community groups, and the school includes safety tips in its monthly newsletters.

Milestones

With the infrastructure improvements, there will be more and better sidewalks for the children to use to walk to school. Huntingdon Primary’s principal says she believes the sidewalks will increase the number of students who walk to school. Right now, only a few students regularly walk to the primary school.
Huntingdon Primary also plans to submit a grant to receive funding for the installation of decorative lighting along the sidewalks leading up to the school.

Contact

Leanne Bailey
Principal, Huntingdon Primary School
Phone: 731-986-3091
Email: Leanne.bailey@hssd.k12.tn.us