Spring 2012

National Center for Safe Routes to School Announces 26 Spring 2012 Mini-grant Recipients

Grants award federal funding to 26 U.S. schools, municipalities and organizations to increase walking and bicycling safety for students

(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) December 21, 2011 — The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the selection of its newest mini-grant recipients — a program made possible through the federal Safe Routes to School program. Twenty-six schools, municipalities and organizations from across the country will receive $1,000 to support projects designed to encourage students and their families to safely walk and bicycle to school. The mini-grant activities, many of which are driven by students, will occur during the spring semester of the 2011-2012 school year.

"This is our fifth round of mini-grants, and we continue to be impressed with how communities can leverage a little bit of funding and a lot of commitment to develop new programs and to build upon strategies that may already be working well,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. "The community and student leadership recognized here exemplify the forward-thinking mindset that can lead to communities that offer a variety of transportation options.”

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by schools, parents, schoolchildren, community leaders and local, state, federal and tribal governments to enable and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school. The National Center, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal SRTS program, received 212 eligible SRTS mini-grant applications from schools and community organizations nationwide during this fifth award cycle. Proposals selected in the highly competitive process distinguished themselves by identifying a need and proposing a sustainable program to address it.

Proposed mini-grant activities include creating peer mentor programs for walking safety, teaching students how to repair their own bicycles and supporting bicycle helmet usage. Some schools will produce student-designed brochures and provide training for volunteers to enhance oversight of children on their way to and from school.

“These mini-grant recipients represent a collection of great ideas and great need,” Marchetti continued.  “Some proposals were highly innovative, while others used road-tested methods. The flexibility and creativity shown by the communities who develop strategies to increase safe routes is what makes the mini-grant program work so well.”

The selected 26 mini-grant recipient organization programs and activities include:

California

  • Youth Educational Sports, Inc. (Chatsworth, Calif.) will begin a student ambassador program for children in the Delano Union Elementary Schools District, an agricultural community where many children’s parents leave for work early in the morning. The "Walking Ambassadors" Pilot Program will train Almond Tree Middle School students in the pedestrian safety skills needed to lead younger elementary students along their route to school, which will help provide safer passages and address barriers such as loose dogs and bullies. The Walking Ambassadors will be provided with high-visibility safety apparel to help with visibility, especially during the many foggy days.
  • New Directions for Youth, Inc. (North Hollywood, Calif.) will hold parent and community information sessions at five schools and will institute a youth-led Video Voice Mapping training and program. The mapping efforts will target three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school, whose 8,000 students are on the busy Los Angeles streets before and after school each day. At the information sessions, each group of parents will conduct walkability assessments and identify safety concerns for the children in the area.  Through the Video Voice Mapping project, students from the local middle and high schools will create video diaries documenting the dangers they encounter when walking or biking to school. Information gathered from both the Video Voice Mapping and the parent and community information sessions will be used to help determine the needs for a larger SRTS program plan for the area.
  • Montgomery Middle School (San Diego, Calif.) will begin a volunteer Safe Passage and Violence Prevention Coalition among students, school officials, parents and law enforcement. The Volunteer Parent Safety Patrol will provide adult supervision on street corners along routes to school in order to address the fears of gangs and bullying that were reported by students in the school’s 2009 Safe Passage Survey.  Brochures and outreach fliers will inform parents and community members about Safe Passage efforts and will educate them about available resources and the health benefits of choosing walking and bicycling. In addition, bicycle helmets will provide basic protective equipment to students who cannot afford to purchase the equipment on their own.
  • The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (Santa Barbara, Calif.) will help Cleveland Elementary School sustain its weekly walk to school efforts through enhanced promotion. COAST will hold a school-wide art contest to develop a logo that will be included on promotional materials to brand the program in the Santa Barbara community. The program will also design and develop an official walk to school banner that will be displayed for weekly walking events in order to increase visibility and excitement while saving event organizers time in promoting the weekly walks.

Georgia

  • Dunwoody Elementary School (Dunwoody, Ga.) will continue the momentum from its first Walk to School Day through several interventions targeted to help create a walking culture at this new school. Bicycle racks will be installed in a prominent location in front of the school as a visual reminder for carpoolers that alternative transportation options exist. The school will also conduct safety workshops for volunteers, including adults who “drive” the walking schools buses and students who serve as safety patrol officers on campus.  Safety volunteers will be provided with vests, flashlights, whistles, and other gear for high visibility and communication.
  • The Evansdale Elementary School and PTA (Atlanta, Ga.) will support their students’ non-motorized travel through the development of a "Safe Routes to School" informational brochure that includes a map of walking and bicycing routes. The brochure will mark "Park and Walk" locations around the school and list neighborhood Walking School Bus stops. It will also be available in Spanish and posted on the PTA website. In addition, students will design Driver Safety Signs stating “Watch for Walkers and Bikers,” “No Talk or Text Zone,” “Children Walking, Please Slow Down,” and other visual cues to help with parent driver awareness. Pedestrian safety and bicycle training will also be offered, and  pedestrian control features will be installed at busy intersections near the school.

Illinois

  • Perspectives Charter School (Chicago, Ill.) will partner with Pain to Power, a successful non-profit Safe Passage program, in order to implement a Safe Passage program at Perspectives Middle Academy.  The Pain to Power will provide training directly to students, which includes mapping the safest route from home to school for each individual student and teaching safety strategies, such as walking in groups, avoiding trouble spots, and responding to signals from safety guards.  The organization will also recruit parent volunteers and provide them with extensive safety training.

Indiana

  • Green Meadows Intermediate Elementary School (Frankfort, Ind.) will help 30 students take a strong leadership role in researching and identifying preferred routes to school and current student travel trends.  After researching materials on safe walking and bicycling, students will design a data collection method, analyze the results, create a report and presentation that details the findings, and provide recommendations for multiple SRTS-related community groups, such as Frankfort SRTS (FSRTS), Green Meadows staff and PTO, Frankfort School Board and the Frankfort City Council.  Furthermore, Green Meadows students will develop the “Moving to a Healthy Me” encouragement punch card and reward program for program participants that reach healthy accomplishments.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas School (Indianapolis, Ind.) will implement an online walking and bicycling student travel tracking system through www.saveagallon.org.  This online tool will be used to track students’ walking and bicycling frequency and as a way to encourage  them to walk and bicycle more often. The school will also benefit from this student travel tracking system, ultimatley helping St. Thomas Aquinas evaluate the needs of their SRTS program.

Maine

  • Ocean Avenue Elementary School (Portland, Maine) will focus its activities and efforts on creating a culture of walking and bicycling. The school and PTA will work with administrators to create a Walking School Bus and a weekly Walk and Wheel Wednesdays program. Online maps will be embedded on the school’s website detailing time and routes of Walking School Buses.  Students will map the  safest routes from home to school and will actively assess traffic concerns, existing infrastructure and environmental assets.
  • Harrison Middle School (Yarmouth, Maine) will use OpenStreetMaps (OSM), a free global positioning system (GPS) mapping tool, in order to collect and share safe routes information. The “tracks” from the GPS devices will be uploaded to the OSM website, and students will learn to trace over their tracks and convert them into functional map elements in OSM. The middle school students will provide their peers and Harrison Middle School families with a useful tool that encourages bicycling and walking to school through the identification of routes.  Students will track travel mode changes by conducting a survey at the start and end of their OSM project.

Maryland

  • Rodgers Forge Community, Inc. (Baltimore, Md.) will work with Rodgers Forge Elementary School to produce and distribute educational materials that encourage parents to allow their children to participate in walking school buses,  to volunteer in walking school buses, and to organize "bike trains" for parents and children in the spring.  These education and encouragement materials will also target increases in driver awareness, such as the need for drivers to look both ways for pedestrians and cyclists who may be coming from an opposite direction. Lawn signs will be posted at key locations throughout the community to enhance driver awareness and promote caution for children walking and biking to school. A new bike rack will also be installed in order to accommodate a recent increased demand for bicycle storage.

Minnesota

  • Minneapolis Community Education (Minneapolis, Minn.) will develop a two-part, youth-driven bicycle repair program. In the winter session, 12 students will become skilled mechanics by refurbishing 20 bikes donated by a local non-profit bicycle repair shop. They will also be trained in bicycle safety, and each student will receive a helmet, lock, and functional bicycle that he or she has personally refurbished. These newly trained bike ambassadors will model exemplary cycling behavior for their middle school and elementary peers. The effort culminates in National Bike to School Week, when students can have their bikes fixed by their mechanic peers and refurbished bikes will be distributed to at-need participants.

New Jersey

  • Tatem Elementary School (Haddonfield, N.J.) will reduce traffic and increase parent buy-in for walking to school by installing signage that increase visibility, by printing maps of satellite parking and by facilitating discussions between the elementary school, the borough and the Haddonfield police. In addition, the school will work with students to roll out several encouragement activities. The Fifth Grade Safety Patrol will create and broadcast public service announcements, and school activities will increase student awareness of and involvement in walking and bicycling to school.

North Dakota

  • Safe Kids Grand Forks (Grand Forks, N.D.) will work with parents, staff and students at Ben Franklin Elementary School to create a “No Cell Phone Zone” around the school. Sixth through eighth grade students in nearby schools will also be involved in the efforts through a group called YORS (Youth gaining Opportunities, Recognition and Skills). YORS members participate in a variety of volunteer activities and projects that focus on character education and community involvement, and several members serve on the Grand Forks Youth Commission (GFYC) that reports to the mayor.  The Grand Forks Youth Commission hopes to bring the “No Cell Phone Zone” school campaign to the City Council to increase awareness of the need for distracted driving interventions.

Ohio

  • Toledo Public Schools (Toledo, Ohio) will establish a Walking School Bus program at Sherman Elementary, a school with a high percentage of students who must walk along a major road to get to school.  Background checks and CPR and first aid training for adults leading walking school buses will ensure that those who are responsible for the students will provide proper supervision.  For every 15 students, two parent volunteers will meet the students at designated pick-up stops in order to lead them to and from school.  Volunteers will be provided with high-visibility safety apparel and supply backpacks that contain lights, whistles and a first aid kit to ensure group safety and  visibility.  Older students will also have the opportunity to create a promotional video to get the younger students and parents excited about the Walking School Bus program. Student participation will be emphasized in order to foster high levels of buy-in and student-to-student mentorship.

Oklahoma

  • Sterling Elementary (Sterling, Okla.) students will learn safe walking and bicycling skills through classroom lessons and practice walking and bicycling safely in order to develop safe traveling habits. The students will also learn about the health and physical fitness benefits of active transportation. Joint parent workshops will be held to educate parents and allow families to practice safe travel skills together. Students will create posters and brochures for the school and community to increase awareness of pedestrian and bicycle safety. Sterling walkers will be provided with reflective bracelets and bicyclists with reflectors to increase their visibility. In addition, crossing guards will receive hand-held stop signs and high-visibility safety apparel.

Oregon

  • Roseway Heights School (Portland, Ore.), together with the City of Portland, will work with students to encourage year-round bicycling to school, particularly during Portland’s cold and rainy winters.  As part of the kickoff for Roseway Height’s new covered bicycle rack, students will receive weather-related items, including high-visibility safety apparel, ponchos, seat covers and lights. Students will participate in the development of a mural for the bicycle shelter, enhancing student buy-in and ownership.  Roseway Heights SRTS program will also develop signs in order to promote upcoming walk and bicycle to school days.

Texas

  • Milam School (El Paso, Texas) will enhance its current bicycle education and licensing program with new teaching materials, a bike safety DVD, signage, helmets, LED reflective lights and incentive items. Milam School is located on the Fort Bliss military base, and 99 percent of the students are military dependents living within a mile of the school.  A bicycle license is awarded to students in third through fifth grade who successfully complete a written test after participating in the bicycle education curriculum in physical education classes. The education effort will also include students who walk to school.
  • The City of Temple (Temple, Texas) will provide education and outreach to students and families at Bonham Middle School and Lakewood Elementary School to complement walking and bicycling trails that are being constructed in spring 2012. Educational efforts will include a student brochure design contest with a map of walking and bicycling routes and information on safety and the benefits of active transportation.  A photo voice project will help students identify safe routes and barriers, and a public service announcement made by students will be aired on the Temple City TV channel and posted on city and district websites. The grant will allow collaboration with the local Scott and White Hospital Cycling Club and the City Police and Fire Departments, the first collaborative effort of all involved.

Utah

  • Bonneville Elementary PTA (Orem, Utah) will provide the radKids personal empowerment safety education for students.  School officials hope to see a decrease in bullying and an increase in respect and self-control.  

Virginia

  • Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy (Alexandria, Va.) will begin a "Walk Your Kid to School” campaign to connect neighbors and promote youth activity.  The PTA will promote this campaign with flyers and posters created by students and will develop incentives for both students and teachers.  New pedometers will be purchased for the fifth graders’ Walk Smart Active Schools program in which students use pedometers to log steps toward the morning walk to school.   As participating students log their steps each day, they are also taking a “virtual walk” that their teacher has pre-selected.  Each virtual walk contains colorful maps and educational milestones where students can learn about math, history, geography and social sciences.

Washington

  • Mason Matters (Shelton, Wash.) is a regional non-profit health organization that will help a group of high school student volunteers organize a comprehensive bicycle helmet program at Olympic Middle School. The high school students will hold a helmet drive with community partners and conduct a bicycle safety assembly about the dangers of riding without helmets. This fun event will promote safety and physical fitness and aims to get kids outside and exercising safely. Volunteers will also hold a helmet event at the local state park for low-income children. Students will publicize their efforts in the local newspaper, on local radio stations, on the Internet and with flyers in the community.
  • The Community School (Spokane, Wash.) will expand its bicycle maintenance workshop program with a mobile workshop that builds the skills and capacity of Spokane students to maintain and fix their own bicycles. The school will support these student bicycle mechanics with tools, parts and safe riding materials.  Three Spokane elementary schools – Holmes, Garfield and Audubon –  will benefit from the mobile bicycle mechanic workshop in after-school settings that impact hundreds of students.
  • Vancouver School District Foundation (Vancouver, Wash.) seeks to reduce tardiness at Washington Elementary through a Walking School Bus program. This program, led by the school’s family and community resource center coordinator and volunteers, will empower parent volunteers as leaders of Walking School Bus (WSB) routes. Route volunteers will be equipped with high-visibility apparel, a whistle and a safety light baton with which to lead their Walking School Buses. All the students’ homes are within a one-mile radius of the school, and the goals are to improve student attendance and reduce tardiness.

Wisconsin

  • McKinley Elementary School (Wauwatosa, Wis.) seeks to expand its Walking School Bus program by reaching out to local community members, businesses and three nearby universities.  Volunteer recruitment will use posters, newspaper advertisements and digital marketing strategies to recruit college students to help lead the McKinley walking school bus.  Once a core group of volunteers has been identified and trained, additional WSB routes will be added. Training sessions and background checks will be required for all volunteers. In addition, the program will create a “Wauwatosa Walking School Bus” handbook, which will be available to other elementary schools in the Wauwatosa school district.


For more information about the National Center’s mini-grant program, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/funding-portal/mini-grants.

 

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About The National Center for Safe Routes to School

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The National Center serves as the clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program. The organization also provides technical support and resources and coordinates online registration efforts and provides technical support and resources for U.S. Walk to School Day and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation. The National Center is part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. For more information, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.