Even if many students live too far to walk or roll from home, they can still be part of a great Walk & Roll to School Day or Bike & Roll to School Day celebration. In an effort to include everyone, many event organizers offer options for bus riders and parent-driven students. These include designated starting points and walk AT school events.
Whether there aren’t safe routes from every participant’s home, you want to include bus riders or you want to have a party with a school-wide walk, there are many times when identifying specific starting points for walking and rolling to school make sense. Ideally, the route will be accessible for all students.
So how might these events look? Here are some ideas that can be mixed and matched into an event that’s right for your community:
Park n Go: Pick a designated meeting area within walking distance of the school that will enable families to park their cars and walk or roll to school. If parents won’t be required to walk or ride with their children, then adult chaperones should be ready to travel to school with students.
Hold a parade: Invite elected officials, parents and students to meet in one location and walk or roll to school parade-style! Carry banners or ask a marching band to escort your group to increase the fanfare of your event. The event fliers should include the location and meeting time, as well as the time the group will leave the site to get to school.
Ride and stride: Bus riders are dropped off at the meeting point and are greeted by volunteers and/or school staff to make the rest of the trip on foot. First they “ride” the bus, then they “stride” or “glide” to school! Look for a drop-off spot where buses will be able to enter and exit. Make a map for bus drivers so they know the location.
Multiple meet-ups: Designate meeting points that match the different directions that students come from. Each route can have a special name such as the “Southern Neighborhood Cyclists” or “West Street Walking School Bus.” Groups depart from respective locations and meet at the school.
Publicize the routes and include departure times. Identify at least one person to act as coordinator at each remote meeting point. This person can make any necessary announcements and get the group walking or riding on time.
This strategy can be particularly good when the event will launch weekly or daily walking school buses or bicycle trains or to promote certain routes to school. It’s also smart when you expect a lot of participants.
Event organizers say that students really enjoy being involved in the preparations for an organized group walk. Encourage students to make signs and banners that they can carry during the parade. Choose a theme or a slogan that students can chant and put on their signs. Get guidance on how to encourage students to make great event signs, or download a banner template to print out for your school.
Walking and rolling AT school is particularly good when there aren’t good walking or rolling routes to school or if students live too far away to walk or ride. Recess, physical education or even class time can be dedicated to walking or rolling together. Students can use the school field or playground or, with a little planning, walk and roll around the school campus. Resourceful organizers have even held events in gyms in rainy weather. It’s an activity all the children can enjoy, and the walks or rides can be tied into a variety of classroom activities. Schools can host bike rodeos or walking and rolling parades after school if it is not possible to walk or roll to school, or hold a parade during school hours.