|Photo courtesy of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership|
Several years ago Keister Elementary in Harrisonburg, Virginia, received a federal Safe Routes to School grant to provide sidewalks, traffic calming, crosswalks, bike lanes and new signage around the school. With the new infrastructure in place, school leaders were eager to find ways to further encourage students to walk and bike to school. They started with a Walking Friday program where kids walked on a track for 20-30 minutes before school once a week, and then created a walking school bus to serve a nearby housing complex. Initially parents at the complex were concerned about the safety of the walking school bus, so school staff visited each family at home to explain the program and encourage parents to get involved.
Today the walking school bus has 100 percent participation, and the school is looking into even more ways to incorporate walking and biking into students' daily lives.