First-Time Tips

I like to walk because I was walking with my friends.
– Second-grade student, Ohio

Event organizers have offered 10 tips that cover all steps of the planning process.

Tip 1. Start Small

It’s okay to start small. Or big. You can always build on your successes with more components next year. Or, if the school’s enthusiastic and partners are ready to help, aim high and follow up the flier with other promotional materials and planned activities

Tip 2. Plan Early (if you can)

When time is on your side, plan as early as you can. Depending on how your school operates, it might be a good idea to get the ball rolling 2 months before your event date.  Many organizers get approval from the school (or the organizer is the school principal) in the previous school year. They don’t take any other steps at that point besides getting the date on the school calendar.

Tip 3. Get the Principal On Board

Get the principal’s approval before moving forward on tasks. Approach the principal with an outline of your ideas for the event as early as possible. While at minimum the principal’s approval is needed, he or she can also be what makes the event really shine.

Tip 4. Recruit Help

There’s no need to go it alone. Don’t try to plan and carry out the event all by yourself. Recruit other adults and students to help. Learn more about finding partners to help you plan the event or to donate items that could make your event even more of a success. For instance, a local grocery store may be willing to donate bagels, oranges or some other refreshment for participants.

Tip 5. Include All Students

Include everyone at the school. Explore ways to participate and learn about how to provide access for all students.

Tip 6. Provide Incentives (if you can)

Give out incentive items or tokens if you can. Print stickers and certificates, or order prizes such as pencils, badges or reflective gear.

Tip 7. Communicate with Parents

Communicate with parents early and often about the event. Distribute fliers 2 weeks before the event, and send out reminders the week and day before the event. Include your contact information in the promotional materials in case parents have questions or concerns. We provide flier templates for you to use and adapt. Intercom announcements are another good way to get the word out and reinforce safety tips.

Tip 8. Get the Word Out

Get the word out beyond the school. Promote the event to the community, elected officials and students. Think strategically. For example, if speeding is a problem, you may want to involve local law enforcement. If sidewalks are missing or in bad repair, you may want to invite your local public works department. Browse ideas for promoting your event.

Tip 9. Register Your Event

Register your event. Thousands of schools and communities around the country register their events.  Make sure your event is counted by registering.

Tip 10. Review the Get Started Guide

Review the Get Started Guide for step-by-step guidance on planning an event.

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Take Tips on the Go

Print our fliers to take some tips with you while planning a Walk to School Day event or a Bike to School Day event.