Did You Know?

A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Engagement leads to school biking and walking success

This blog post is part of a series chronicling our work with Healthy CPS. Read more about the project here.

An important part of the Healthy CPS Safe Routes to School project is developing school-specific recommendations to increase the number of kids walking and biking to school.

Since parents are among the best people to identify obstacles to walking and biking to school, parent engagement was essential to making this project successful.

Involving students and parents in creating healthier schools is an important part of supporting the CPS Local School Wellness Policy.

At nearly every school, our team held community workshops to gather parent feedback for the school’s Safe Routes Action Plan.

The workshops (pictured above and below) also provided an opportunity to empower parents and community groups with the knowledge, tools and resources to enhance the livability of their neighborhoods.

Over the course of our Healthy CPS project, we engaged more than 200 parents.

Workshops opened with a presentation (in English and/or Spanish) on the various aspects of a Safe Routes to School program. It allowed participants to share what they felt would be the most beneficial strategies to use in the community.

Workshops also included a mapping activity in which participants met in small groups to identify barriers to walking and biking in their neighborhood. All project schools are neighborhood schools, with attendance boundaries no more than two miles of the school, making it possible for students to more easily bike or walk to school.

Our community workshops were often the first time participants had heard of Safe Routes to School. Parents at Cameron Elementary, for example, used the presentation as a chance to brainstorm how encouragement activities could address some of the safety concerns in their neighborhood.

At Monroe School, Active Trans staff met with their LSNA Parent Mentor program, a group that is excited about the possibility of reestablishing a Walking School Bus program that existed in their neighborhood more than a decade ago.

We truly value all the feedback we received during our engagement opportunities and hope they were starting points for continued work with each of our schools.