Event Report: Walk to School Month at West Woodland

bike fairy fall 13 (Small)by Polly Freeman, West Woodland Elementary

For the month of October, West Woodland students tracked their non-driving trips to school (biking, walking, scootering, bussing) on spreadsheets outside each classroom door.

walkie award at West WoodlandOn International Walk to School Day, we met walkers and bikers outside the school with free breadsticks donated by Great Harvest Bakery. We moved away from giving small trinkets as incentives this year—instead, two high-participating classrooms (K-2 and 3-5) received the first annual “Walkie” award – a golden tennis shoe mounted on a decorative base created by one of our artistic parents and her team of junior artists.

Also, five top walkers and wheelers received headlamps donated by Second Ascent. Winning classes and individuals were recognized during a monthly all-school announcement over the intercom, which reinforced their participation and honored them in front of their peers.we met walkers and bikers outside the school with free breadsticks donated by Great Harvest Bakery.

The “Bike Fairy” was also spotted during Walk and Wheel Month, “catching” walking and wheeling students, and awarding them Hershey’s Kisses and stickers that say, “I got Kissed by the Bike Fairy.”

Kids remembered the Bike Fairy from last year, and were thrilled to spot the Fairy as they walked to and from school.

Breadsticks this Way!

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West Woodland Bike Rodeo Rides Again!

A bike rodeo is a safe and supportive place to get the youngest riders started

A bike rodeo is a safe and supportive place to get even the youngest riders started

guest post by Polly Freeman

Beating the odds on the weather, 65 cyclists and their families enjoyed an afternoon of bike riding at the West Woodland bike rodeo Sunday, April 28. Each cyclist got a helmet fit check before testing their skills at six stations and snacking on fruit and breadsticks. The bike safety check area was bustling with volunteers pumping tires, checking brakes and more. Fourteen cyclists also took home new low-cost helmets, custom-fitted by our volunteers, thanks to the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation. A dozen riders ventured out on two “urban” rides supported by Cascade Bike Club staff.

Everyone who completed the stations earned their choice of cool stickers, water bottles and patch kits courtesy of Gregg’s Cycles and Free Range Cycles. All riders were also entered in a drawing for NiteIze bike lights.

Thank you so much to our 20 dedicated parent volunteers, veterans and newbies alike, who make the bike rodeo possible – and fun! We rely on West Woodlan staff support and also thank our sponsors and donors, especially Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation, Gregg’s Cycles, Free Range Cycles, Great Harvest and Ballard Market.

Editors note: Reports like this are trickling in as schools around Seattle kick off Bike to School Month this year. Bike rodeos and other kickoff event were held at several schools last week, with more today and next week too. West Woodland is experienced at this, and Polly is too (her fifth bike rodeo!). They’ve worked out the bugs, and hopefully some of their approaches will be useful to others.

West Woodland Bike Rodeo Rider

A Few October Highlights

Wow, I can’t believe November is nearly over and we’re already into the holiday season. We’ve been meaning to recap a few of the highlights from this past October, when many Seattle schools focused their efforts on IWalk and other walk to school programs.

While the recap is a little tardy, the events themselves were timely, and amounted to a hugely successful walk to school month at a number of local schools. The stories below just scratch the surface, as many schools hosted events. But hopefully these examples can provide some ideas for other schools to consider.

Here are a few highlights:

At West Woodland Elementary, an emphasis on “walking and wheeling” during October involved kids in all forms of sustainable commuting. Over the course of the month, 81% of West Woodland kids walked or wheeled to school at least once, up significantly from last year’s 62%.

According to organizers, this might have been due to the good weather early on, or it might have been due to the West Woodland fairies who surprised the kids with rewards. (Yes, it turns out that bike and walking fairies are beginning to multiply around the city… Bryant and Laurelhurst and now West Woodland too!)

A number of West Woodland parents donned fairy wings, sequined skirts, or other fun accessories and took turns “catching” kids walking or biking to and from school, rewarding them with stickers and Hershey’s kisses for their efforts. There was quite a buzz around school about the fairies and the parents had fun doing it, too.  Every walker received a small goody bag, and West Woodland held a bike blender smoothie party for the two classes with top participation. The top five individual walkers also received headlamps donated by Second Ascent.

Bagley walkers

At Bagley Elementary, the school’s “Let’s Move” program got up and running for the school year in October. Like West Woodland, this program involves both walking  and biking to school, including organized groups along several walking school bus routes. As Bagley works to promote active transportation choices, they also host school walks and runs for the kids on the Bagley track in the mornings as well. Bagley plans to run its Let’s Move program for the rest of the year.

Salmon Bay K-8 pulled together its first ever Walk to School day at the end of October this year. It was a huge success! The walk to school day involved five walking school buses and several of them had twenty students and 5-10 adults!  Several teachers & staff joined the buses as well, and Salmon Bay’s event even made the local news!

Salmon Bay had about 100 student walkers overall.  Organizers report that participation and encouragement by a new principal and assistant principal this year who are both dedicated to walking and biking to school helped tremendously. This is yet another reminder of how a supportive administration can really help these programs take off.

Bryant’s walking school buses were a huge success as well, with over 100 kids participating in one or more of the Friday morning buses. Bryant families gathered at four stations, each a few blocks from school, and from there walked to school en masse. One smaller group set up timed stops along about a one-mile route, ultimately joining up at the north station for the final walk to school. It was great fun!

On the final Friday, Bryant’s north walking bus added kid instruments (recorders, drums, even pots and pans) to enhance the parade. On that final Friday, the “Walking Wizard” paid a visit as well, to reward kids who walked.

And Laurelhurst had a fantastic month too, with a sequence of events that kicked off the month and provided support along the way, with a final wrap-up event as well. This all added up to huge participation, with the entire school joining a kick-off assembly and an “all-school walk” early in the month, and then nearly half of the students following through with sustainable commuting and tracking their trips over the course of the month.

Obviously we’re deeper into the rainy and dark season in Seattle now, but we’ve seen some sunny and dry periods like the first part of this week as well. Hopefully we’ll continue to see a few glimpses of sun over the course of the winter, along with a few opportunities to encourage families to break out their rain gear to walk or bike to school.

Hopefully these schools and others can build on the momentum of October and support families to explore getting to school under their own power over the course of the winter.

And for school organizers, the next few months are a perfect time to lay the groundwork for walk and bike to school programs for the coming spring!

Walk-to-school traffic jam!

West Woodland — Walking to School and Biking Too!

We’re looking forward to learning more about the walk and bike to school programs at West Woodland Elementary School.

West Woodland is known for its walking school buses, and has been cited by both Feet First and even the Seattle Times as having a great walk to school program. Nicole Brodeur of the Times wrote a nice article on the West Woodland walking school bus back in 2010, calling it a “well-oiled machine of chattering kids and banging backpacks”:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nicolebrodeur/2013135353_nicole12m.html

But the school has a bike to school program as well, complete with an annual bike rodeo and other fun events.

In fact, this year’s bike rodeo is scheduled for May 6th. We can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Sounds like a couple folks from West Woodland will join us on April 12 at the city-wide meet-up. Hopefully they’ll share some of their tips and techniques for getting kids walking and biking. Can’t wait to learn more about what they’ve been doing to promote kid-powered commuting!