Walk to School Day has come and gone. If you’re like many local coordinators and volunteers, the amount of work you put into this one-day event is overwhelming. You’re tired and want to move on to the next issue. But now that you’ve built this momentum for walking and bicycling to school, what happens next?
Many schools use Walk to School events to kick-off a year-long promotion to encourage walking and bicycling. Here are some ideas to keep the momentum going all year long!
- Choose one day of each week or month to create promote walking and bicycling (e.g. Walk and Roll Wednesdays, Footloose Fridays). Have teachers keep track of walkers and bicyclers on this day and use it to continue your classroom Golden Shoe Competition.
- Start an after-school walk or bicycle club that teaches pedestrian and bicycle safety skills and provides ongoing physical activity for youth. Clubs can be led by teachers or parent volunteers. Clubs can also conduct walk and bicycle mobility audits or do bicycle maintenance.
- Encourage teachers to incorporate classroom activities that promote regular walking and bicycling, such as a Walk Across California.
- Partner with your local police and fire department, local health department, Safe Kids Coalition, and other groups to create quarterly themed events promoting walking and bicycling to school. Common themes include Winter Walk Days, Spring into Spring, and March On through March. Popular events to plan corresponding walk/bike days include Earth Day (April), and May is Bike Month Kick-off.
- Consider building on the momentum of your event by working with school administrators to pass policies supporting bicycling and walking. Read about sample policies here. The SRTS National Parternship’s Educator’s Guide contains valuable information to help guide work with the school community.
- Finally, to sustain these activities year around and build a lasting program, consider the last weeks of October an opportunity to talk to parents and school staff about starting a SRTS committee to discuss opportunities and address issues throughout the year. If your school(s) received media coverage for any events, you may be able to leverage this interest with local officials and public works/engineering departments to demonstrate that there is demand for improved facilities in the community.
Key Elements for Successful Regular Activities
- A one-day event is a great way to get parents and children to try out walking and bicycling but it is just a first step to creating lasting behavior change. Consider ongoing encouragement in parent newsletters and other school sponsored communications.
- Tone it down, but keep it going. A weekly event means you might not have greeter tables, healthy snacks, and balloons each day but you should find some way to acknowledge those who walk and rolled. Consider a simple sticker chart in each classroom or a monthly raffle.
- Encourage school leadership to model walking and bicycling behavior. Having the principal out there leading the charge each week is a great way to keep students motivated and show that the school values walking and bicycling.
California Walk to School Headquarters Year Round Activities
Read about Starting a SRTS Program