Inter-generational Walking Project: Stephens Middle School and Center 50+

Through a partnership with AARP-Oregon and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge recipient Just Walk Salem Keizer worked with Stephens Middle School in Salem, Oregon. Here’s their exciting success story. 

In collaboration with Just Walk Salem Keizer, OSU Extension Service, and Salem Leadership Foundation, students at Stephens Middle School and volunteers from Center 50+ (senior center) conducted an inter-generational walking project in support of the Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge.

The project engaged twenty-three students from the Stephens Middle School leadership class and 8 volunteers from Center 50+. Students were divided into six groups, with at least one adult volunteer in each group. Over eight sessions, students worked with the volunteers to develop their route, cross-check the route with the Walkable America Walkability Checklist, make changes, cross-check again, and then finalize the route. A total of six routes were developed. Students shared their routes and experiences in a presentation to peers and stakeholders on May 23, 2017. Eight students, representing four groups, were invited to share their presentation with transportation planners from Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments (June 8, 2017) and Salem City Council (June 12, 2017).

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Inter-generational Project: Crooked River Walking School Buses

Through a partnership with AARP-Oregon and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge recipient Crook County Public Health worked with Crooked River Elementary School in Prineville, Oregon. Here’s their exciting success story. 

ISSC_Crook WSB Cheri High-Five

Want to learn more about how to set up a Walking School Bus in your community? Read our guide Step by Step: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School

This spring, Crook County Public Health offered four Walking School Bus routes every Wednesday morning for students of Crooked River Elementary, from spring break to the end of school (a total of 10 weeks). Abby Leibowitz, the AmeriCorps VISTA running the program, did significant outreach to the school community, and found that talking face-to-face with families seemed to be the most effective way of explaining and publicizing the program.

Abby posted fliers throughout town, presented during Senior Center lunches, contacted retired police officers and teachers, encouraged local community leaders to spread the word, and recruited school parents who had previously volunteered. In all, she recruited a total of 8 consistent volunteers and 3 substitute volunteers, 6 of whom were older adults. All volunteers underwent a background check and a one-hour training about the many benefits of walking to school, program logistics, volunteer & participant expectations, and pedestrian safety.

Each week, 15-30 total students participated, and even caught the attention of local media: Crooked River Elementary students who live close to their school may hop on a Walking School Bus once a week.

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Borrow The Slow Way Home film

In Japan, 98 percent of children walk to school.

In the United States, only 13 percent do.

It’s time for a change.

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The documentary The Slow Way Home looks at how students travel to school in Japan & US, considers why so few kids in the U.S. walk to school, and asks what WE can do to change that. It also features students, families, and local celebrities from Milwaukie, Oregon City, and Portland, OR!

Would you like to screen this film for a group of people in your area, your organization, or just watch it with your family? We have a copy of the film and would be more than happy to lend it to you — just fill out this borrowing form and we’ll get you on the list!

 

‘Safe Routes to School 101’ Primer Now Available in Spanish and Russian

If you are, or want to be, working with Russian- or Spanish-speaking communities* and need basic resources to start a conversation and let community members know more about Safe Routes to School, please feel free to download and use our Safe Routes to School Primer translations!

The Primer is a great conversation starter, guide, or leave-behind. Learn more about Safe Routes to School, including essential elements to consider when establishing a program and helpful statistics on the many benefits of Safe Routes to School in your community.

Un manual sobre las rutas seguras a la escuela

Краткое руководство по реализации программы Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School Primer

*Best practice for community outreach involves more than just translated materials. Be sure to go where your community is, don’t ask them to come to you. It is vital to translate documents and have translation at meetings in communities with populations of non-English speakers. Think about how to reach non-native speakers beforehand, including use of radio and community newspapers. [Adapted from FRESC: http://fresc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Best-Practices-for-Community-Engagement.pdf%5D

Announcement: Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge recipients selected

AARP Oregon and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership are working together to bring Oregonians an Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge. Youth and older adults have similar needs when it comes to navigating our streets on foot. Whether a second grader is walking to school, their grandfather is walking to the corner store with their shopping trolley, or their aunt is walking to the park to socialize – we need accessible destinations, continuous paths, and safe crossings.

We’re pleased to announce the following recipients have been selected for the Inter-generational Safe Streets Challenge:

Just Walk Salem Keizer: Conduct an intergenerational walk audit
Just Walk Salem Keizer & Stephens Middle School (Salem-Keizer School District)
Just Walk Salem Keizer (a grassroots network of neighborhood walking groups) will engage at least two groups of middle school students and older adults in working together to develop at least 1 walking route each that highlights the points of health in their neighborhood. The groups will cross-check the routes by conducting the Walkable America ‘walkability checklist’. Once finalized, the walking routes will be included in a full-color “WanderWalks” pocket map printed by our transit provider, Cherriots, and distributed to neighbors through community partners. This project aims to foster healthy neighborhoods through identifying safe and enjoyable places to walk together.

Age Friendly Gilbert Park Partnership
Ride Connection & Gilbert Park Elementary School (David Douglas School District)
Older adults will volunteer to serve as “Coaches” for school age crossing guards. Gilbert Park students must use one of two busy arterials to access their school and frequently encounter speeding cars. The school age crossing guards are often at risk if they fail to gauge car speeds and distance and enter the street too late. Older adults can be part of the solution by “coaching” the school age children to make safer decisions about when to enter the street to signal for crossing. In addition, these volunteers can be engaged in further Safe Routes projects and programming as the overall Safe Routes project for this school site is developed.

Crooked River Walking School Buses
Crook County Public Health & Crooked River Elementary School (Crook County School District)
This fall, Crooked River Elementary School had its first successful Walk to School Day, with nine official volunteers and more than 70 students participating. We hope to build on this success by offering walking school buses each week this spring. We will be partnering with the local Soroptimist Senior Center in order to foster relationships between our community’s older adults and younger families, create a sustainable volunteer base for the walking school bus program, and promote a larger community conversation about walkability for everyone in our rural town. This grant would be used towards promotional materials, healthy snacks, and incentives.

Read more about the challenge rules, and watch this space for updates as these projects are planned and unveiled in 2017!

Youth engagement, partnership, empowerment

Youth support for policy change, program development and community planning is powerful and can be the catalyst to success: When kids speak up, adults listen.

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Youth-led campaigns, such as the #YouthPass4All campaign in Portland have a big impact and show how the voice of youth helps to change policies that affect them. OPAL Environmental Justice’s Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) develops low-income youth and youth of color leaders through political education, campaign organizing, and skill-building to address issues of Environmental Justice. The leadership program creates a space for marginalized youth to take action on the issues that directly impact them and their communities.

Youth Pass provides a free transit pass to high school students in lieu of yellow bus service, but of course an all-access transit pass does so much more for high schoolers — from extracurricular activities to life-supporting jobs. Currently, Youth Pass only serves Portland Public Schools high school students; YEJA’s report on the need for Youth Pass programs in all of Portland features new data on student transportation needs and transit barriers in East Portland, and startling statistics including:

  • 41% of the students at David Douglas High School have missed class due to missing the school bus and not having other transportation.
  • 70% of students at Parkrose said having a free transit pass would make it easier for them to attend school.

Over the summer, OPAL ran a youth training program, Serve the People, with robust curriculum on environmental justice, transit justice and a variety of other topics relevant to training emerging youth leaders to lead their peers when they head back to school.

As we all head back into the school year, it will serve us well to consider ways to incorporate youth perspectives, voices, and leadership into our work. Below are more opportunities coming up — learn more and get plugged in.

August 17 – Participate in the #MoveEquity tweetchat to discuss youth organizing and leadership in low-income communities and communities of color, and engaging youth in getting to school safely.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT

August 24 – Join the National Partnership’s webinar and learn about youth engagement at the local, regional and state level, how kids of all ages are influencing their community in positive ways, and how your community can engage youth, participate in meaningful dialog, and share ideas with decision makers and community members to make a difference for safety in their community.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT
More information and registration

What does it cost to make a school safe for walking and bicycling?

UPDATED 5/17/2016

We get a lot of questions about cost for Safe Routes to School improvements, and it’s difficult to answer. First we have to know what the school needs — a school assessment, or action plan, is a helpful start, but not every school has one. Costs for pedestrian and bicycle safety infrastructure needs around schools often vary greatly from city to city and state to state, but in general are low-cost compared to the costs of building new roadways. The one-time cost for infrastructure improvements vary based on school needs, but conservative improvements identified at surveyed schools in Oregon indicate an average of $1 million per school in infrastructure needs. New Jersey Safe Routes to School has a good tool for estimating costs.

Generally, the one-mile area around a school is considered the “walk zone” — where no yellow school bus service is available. In the Portland Metro region and elsewhere in Oregon and Washington, jurisdictions have begun the work of identifying the specific safety needs  around schools so they can gather a comprehensive picture of needs and  begin to tackle them.

Our work with local and regional jurisdictions to support allocation of funding toward these projects ensures we can begin to address this issue – especially at schools where the needs are greatest because kids are already walking along and across unsafe streets. It’s important to remember that it’s not just students who need to walk or bicycle near schools – school staff, neighbors, those getting to a transit stop or a local shop, and visitors do, too.

Here are a few examples. Continue reading