Ossining, New York: SRTS efforts raise awareness

Introduction

The village of Ossining, NY, is located within Westchester County, NY, along the Hudson River. The elementary schools within the town and village of Ossining are divided into two grade increments, and several buses serve each school. The necessary busing program and a lack of physical infrastructure prevent many children from walking to school.

Activities

The idea for an Ossining community and the local Ossining Safe Routes to School committee school walk day emerged in 2006 during a meeting of village and town council members, law enforcement officials, school personnel, parents and other key stakeholders with a shared vision of a more pedestrian friendly village. The SRTS committee decided to focus its efforts on a walk day for both school children and community members as a means of increasing pedestrian safety awareness in Ossining. Other factors, which helped encourage the community to focus on a walk day to help highlight and educate SRTS needs, were the on-going work of the village Master Plan committee and the County-wide Mayor and Supervisor’s Challenge for a Healthy Community.

The SRTS committee selected Claremont Elementary School and Anne M. Dorner Middle School as the main locations for the SRTS activities because of their unique locations. The elementary school is on village land, while the middle school is on town land, presenting the opportunity to work with both village and town officials to coordinate the walk day. One dedicated citizen raised $5,000 from local businesses and a state agency to fund the event. The money was used for advertising, banners, incentives such as zipper pulls and reflective safety strips for walkers, ponchos in case of rain and healthy snacks and water.

On May 4, 2007, the planning and organizing efforts came together in the inaugural Ossining School/ Community Walk Day. Parent and teacher volunteers, senior citizens and personnel from small businesses met buses from Claremont Elementary and Anne M. Dorner Middle at a designated drop point approximately 0.4 mile from the schools. The children were then escorted to their respective schools for more individualized walk day activities. At the middle school, the children walked laps in the dedication ceremony for the newly constructed year-round track. The elementary school students learned the historical significance of the cemetery along their planned walking route. Other schools within the town and village, including private schools, also supported the day by walking around their respective schools. Within the town, banners and fliers promoted the walk day, encouraging people to walk to work, local businesses, the train station, the public library and to the recreation center. Participants were asked to log their efforts on a mileage calculator on the town Web site or to place their logs in drop boxes placed at the town library, community center, town hall and train station.

Milestones

The School/Community Walk Day produced promising results for Ossining. More than 100 community volunteers contributed their time and skills to make the walk day a success. Approximately 1,200 children from Claremont Elementary and Anne M Dorner Middle participated in the walk day, with an additional 1,200 students participating through exercise and walking activities at area schools. Together the Ossining
SRTS efforts raise awareness schools and community logged 1,230 miles for the day. Currently, there are plans for next year’s walking event with a focus on fundraising for future infrastructure improvements. As Ossining formulates its vision for the future, planners are placing a higher priority on pedestrian safety issues, thanks in part to the awareness raised during the walk day.

Contact

Dana Levenberg
Ossining Union Free School District
190 Croton Avenue, Ossining, NY 10562
(914) 944-3061 (h)
levenberg@verizon.net
www.westchestergov.com/health/FitKids/MayorsChallenge/Ossining.htm