The Walking Bus that left the parking lot at St. Andrews. Not a lot of walking. Photo: Marybeth Newton
This Walktober, a record eighty-five schools in the City of Los Angeles participated in LADOT’s “Walk to School Day” Program. The total number dwarfed those of past years, as more and more schools are actively encouraging students to walk to school.
Richland Elementary School, where my son is currently enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten, was one of those new schools (although we weren’t organized by October 8, the official “Walk to School Day”). We held our first “Walk/Bike to School Day” last Friday and were overwhelmed by the response.
Here’s the best part: thanks to LADOT’s involvement, it was really easy to program the day. I traded two emails with the principal, Mr. G., filled out a form at Walk to School Day L.A., recruited five other parents to help on the day of, and we were ready to go. LADOT brought banners, treats (donated CLIF Kids Bars), and take-home materials. They also contacted the LAPD to let them know what was going on.
When I first approached the principal, he was excited, but we did laugh that “there’s literally one kid that bikes to school” at Richland. We weren’t including my kid, who is dropped off on a bike, but who doesn’t bike himself on most days.
The school, located in the heart of the North Westdale Community, is centrally located and has a healthy portion of students who do arrive on foot. So, we knew we had a base to work with.
But Richland also has a lot of students who arrive from outside the area. So, we came up with some plans to make our Walk/Bike to School Day a little different. The local church, which just happens to be the one I attend on (most) Sundays, allowed us to use their parking lot as a “Kiss and Walk/Bike” for anyone who wanted to participate. Since the school threw in a homework pass, there was even more incentive to participate.
Mr. G came up with the real crown jewel for the event. He led a bike tour of the campus grounds during morning recess for any kids who arrived on people-powered wheels. The kindergartners rolled in a small circle around the play structure. The older kids took advantage of the entire parcel of land. For a school where one kid bikes to school, watching nearly a hundred kids use their recess to ride with the principal was truly a sight to behold. Read more…