September 17, 2012 Leave a comment
There’s no time like the present to begin hatching a plan for a walk or bike to school event this Fall. The event could be large or small, simple or complex, and for one day or an entire month.
September and October are such great months for kid-powered commuting, but they’re also busy times with curriculum nights, introductory coffees with the principal, ice cream socials to meet other parents, and just a huge range of back-to-school activities. So start planning now to instill walking and biking as part of the back-to-school tradition at your school.
To a large extent, organizing a campaign to get more kids walking and biking to your school comes down to planning a series of events throughout the year. Each event can build on the last, generating enthusiasm among both the kids and their parents. Starting in the Fall, and then providing some continuity from one event to the next is helpful to create and sustain momentum for an entire school year of kid-powered commuting.
Planning a successful event involves thinking ahead to what you want to accomplish, and how best to pull it off. Key elements include:
Determining the basic scope of the event. Will it be a bike rodeo? Walking school bus? Treats before school for kids who walk or bike? Coming up with a general vision and a creative name to match is a great start. Fixing on a date well in advance is critical too, so you can enlist volunteers and get the word out.
Putting together a team. The best events are pulled off by a group of folks with a common goal. You might want to have a smaller core team that helps with the planning, and then a larger cadre of volunteers to help with the event itself. Most team members will likely be from your school community (parents and staff), though some schools have reached out and involved others in the broader community, notably older students who might be alumni who are excited to help out at their old school, or perhaps middle or high school students who are interested in community service.
Determining what materials you need. Treats? Prizes? Outreach materials and signs? Think ahead, and figure out what it will cost and where to get the funding.
Coming up with an outreach and advertising strategy. How will you get the word out? For school events, we’ve often found that using a variety of approaches works really well. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! What if you advertise in the school weekly, but it turns out most folks don’t read it? Good old fashioned enthusiastic word of mouth is particularly effective, so talk it up! It also can help a lot to get the school administration on board, maybe even enlist the principal as a spokesperson. Who can resist the principal’s call to the entire school to walk to school in October?
Lay out the precise details for the event itself. What activities will occur? When and where? Who needs to be involved in each one? Figure out whether you need multiple stations and volunteers, whether everything will happen at once, or if there is a sequence to the event.
Decide if you want to track participation and how. Punchcards? Parents counting bikes or walkers at key locations? Sign-in sheets?
Come up with a plan to celebrate your success!
Hope this helps with your planning, and huge thanks go to Feet First for this basic framework of event planning (though I’ve embellished a bit!). The key is to start your planning early.
Let’s share some more ideas for Fall walk and bike events at this week’s plannng meeting. And if you have ideas to share, let us know and we can expand this post to include them.
Until then, good luck!!