Orleans, Vermont: Small Village, Big Results

Introduction

Orleans Elementary School, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in the village of Orleans, VT, has participated in International Walk to School day since 2006. This elementary school has less than 150 students, most of whom live within walking distance of the school and either walk or are driven to school. Orleans Elementary received $7,000 in federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds through the Vermont Department of Transportation. The town of Orleans plans to use these funds to update and replace worn and weathered traffic signs around the school. The school’s encouragement and education activities are supported through Vermont’s SRTS program.

Activities

Because Orleans is a small village, most of the students live less than one mile from school, and about 85 percent of the students regularly walk or bicycle to school. During Walk to School Week, Orlean Elementary officials provided incentives in the form of charm bracelets to encourage all the children to walk to school. There are students who live in other towns and are bused to Orleans Elementary, and they walk with the school nurse during recess to participate in Walk to School Week.

Around the same time as International Walk to School Day in October 2007, the school used charm bracelets as incentives to walk to school. For one week, each time a student walked or bicycled, they received a plastic foot charm to attach to the bracelet. This activity is organized by the school nurse, who received the bracelets through the state’s SRTS program.

Orleans Elementary organized its first bicycle safety fair in September 2007. At the fair, which was held on a Saturday, students could attend and learn about bicycle and bicycle helmet safety, as well as be fitted for their own bicycle helmet. The school nurse, state SRTS coordinator, a local bicycle shop merchant and a Girl Scouts troop volunteered to run bicycle safety courses and three different bicycle safety sessions for the students. Also, students in kindergarten through fourth grade were taught pedestrian safety in their physical education class for about one month. In spring 2008, there are plans to introduce a bicycle safety curriculum to the students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Milestones

The next step for the SRTS coordinators at Orleans Elementary is to discover how they can further SRTS efforts. The SRTS coordinator would like to see sidewalk installments and improvements occur, especially since parents cited sidewalk safety as one reason for driving their children to school.

Contact

Vicki Marckres, School Nurse
Orleans Elementary School
53 School Street Orleans, VT 05860
Phone: (802) 754-6650
Email: nursemarckres@yahoo.com