October is International Walk to School Month!

By Zoe Harris, Feet First

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Every October, students and families across the world celebrate getting to school without a car. International Walk to School Month, IWALK, promotes health, safety and community by reminding us all of the joys and benefits found in the simple act of walking to school. So far, nearly 4,000 schools in the United States have registered their IWALK campaigns.

IWALK events are up and running across Seattle with many more to begin on Walk to School Day, October 9th. Students at Olympic Hills Elementary just barely missed the torrential rain last Tuesday on their weekly walking event, “Two Feet Tuesdays.” Apple Corps supervisor Samantha Brumfield will be joining next Tuesday dressed as the Feet First Chicken. Roxhill Elementary had an impressive turnout on its first “Fuel Free Friday.” Many families joined parent-led Walking School Buses. Upon arrival students at both schools receive a toe token for their backpack and a punch on their “frequent walking cards.”

Chicken and Guard

At Feet First we are hosting our second annual IWALK Challenge where schools across Washington can win prizes and recognition for their IWALK events. Last year, Saddle Mountain Elementary School in the rural Wahluke School District won the grand prize after three elementary schools joined together for a one day walking event. Over 900 people participated and each student was given a certificate signed by all three principals. The 4th and 5th graders at West Seattle Elementary led an IWALK event last year and got their peers walking and biking to school. For their hard work they received 35 pairs of sneakers. We are excited to see what this year holds!

Seattle schools working to start or bolster a Safe Routes to School Program should look into the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Mini Grants. Grants of up to $1,000 can be used for student safety patrol, Walk to School Day events, pedestrian education campaigns and much more. Applications are due October 25th.

West Seattle El 2 of 2

 

Happy International Walk to School Month!

Feet First Walking Ambassador Spotlight: Mary Magenta

By Darcy Edmunds, Feet First

photo courtesy Kubota Garden website

If you’ve ever wanted to explore Kubota Garden through the eyes of an artist, here is your chance! Mary Magenta, a Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador as well as a volunteer, docent, and Artist in Residence at Kubota Garden, has been leading walks through this wonderful city park in the Rainier Beach neighborhood since late spring. Her knowledge of the Garden’s history and Japanese garden culture combined with her skill and experience as an artist has provided a unique perspective of the park to the many local residents who have joined her over the past few months.

Last month, Mary led a walk to celebrate the Blue Moon. The walk was very well attended, with  twenty-five people howling in the rarefied lunar light. The howling should come as no surprise to those acquainted with Mary’s contagious enthusiasm. “I love being with people,” Mary says, “and being a Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador in my favorite park allows me to meet and interact with fabulous folks from all over–and to share my deep appreciation for the sanctuary that is Kubota Garden.”

While Mary has been visiting Seattle to paint for years, she decided relocate here permanently earlier this year. Mary recently stated that one of the main reasons she chose to move to Seattle is “because public transit works so well here, because bikes are a very welcomed form of transportation, and because I don’t want to drive anymore!”

In addition to leading walks in Kubota Garden this summer, Mary has also been directing Art Adventures (http://www.marymagenta.com/pages/welcome), a 7 week art workshop for grandparents and their grandchilden. Art Adventures has provided a venue for multi-generational discussion about art and nature while creating wonderful works of art together. Through generous donations, Mary was able to provide this workshop free to all participants. Visitors at the Rainier Beach Art Walk will be able to view (and purchase) some of the art from this workshop at the Rainier Beach Medical and Dental Clinic (9245 Rainier Avenue South).

Want to join Mary on her next walk through Kubota Garden?

The blue moon has passed, but the walks continue, starting Tuesday, September 25th from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm, and again in October. Participants of all ages and abilities are welcome. Meet up at the main entrance to Kubota Garden (9817 55th Avenue South) near the intersection of Renton Avenue South and 55th Avenue South. Metro Route 106 serves this location. We’ll see you there!

Feet First (www.feetfirst.org) works to ensure all communities across Washington state are walkable. Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors (http://feetfirst.org/act/ambassadors) are Feet First volunteers who help promote safer, more walkable communities by leading neighborhood walks inviting groups to connect with their surroundings and share knowledge while improving personal and environmental health.

Feet First helped hundreds of students walk thousands of miles in October!

Hello everyone, my name is Caitlin and I am the Safe Routes to School Event Coordinator at Feet First.  My fancy title can be translated as “I get to play with kids and teach them how cool it is to walk to school.”  Needless to say, I have a pretty fun job!

October was International Walk to School Month and Feet First was busy designing and implementing Walk to School events at various Seattle Elementary Schools.  The events ranged from day-long to month-long events and we saw fantastic numbers of walkers.  I’ll highlight just a few of the 15 elementary schools in Seattle, 33 in King County, and 61 in the state of Washington that participated in International Walk to School Month :

The month-long event held at Concord Elementary was part of Concord’s ongoing “Walk Around the World” event.  Over the last two years Concord has held 3 month-long Walk to School events.  They started with a goal of walking the equivalent of the distance between Seattle and Mexico City, or about 2,300 miles!  During their most recent attempt this October, 150 students walked a total of 806.5 miles, which, when added to their totals accumulated during their past events, equates to about 2,340 miles.  Congratulations Concord, you made it to Mexico City!

Greenlake Elementary also hosted a month-long Walk to School event.  Feet First’s Mascot, the Chicken, made an appearance several mornings at Greenlake, where she asked the students “Why did the chicken cross the road?” to which the correct answer was “To (safely) get to Greenlake Elementary!”  With the encouragement of the chicken, 80 Greenlake students walked an impressive 806.5 miles in October!  Nice job Greenlake!

Coe Elementary School held a week-long Walk to School event from 10/10 – 10/13.  Each day of the campaign had a different theme, including scavenger hunt day, chicken day, and trash pick-up day.  Students at Coe really got into the event and made a fantastic effort to walk to school.  Overall, 123 students walked 204 miles in just 4 days!  Way to go Coe!

Overall, International Walk to School Month was a huge success and I’m looking forward to May, when Feet First will be back in the schools celebrating International Walk and Bike to School Month.

Pedestrian Safety and Support in South Park

AppleCorps is all about health and wellness.  The health aspect of my position within this excellent group of Americorps members deals with pedestrian support and safety.
My name is Will, and I work through Solid Ground via Feet First to coordinate volunteers and to provide community organizing for Concord International Elementary.

Feet First is a non-profit pedestrian advocacy organization located in Pioneer Square comprised of a small staff of five employees: Lisa Quinn, executive director; Jen Cole, Safe Routes to School program coordinator; Gia Clark, mapping specialist; Derrick VanKirk, communications coordinator; and myself, Will Beard, community organizer.  However, our board members, interns, volunteers, and program partners provide crucial supplemental support that makes our programming possible.

Concord International Elementary is a K-5 public school located in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle that receives the international title from its language immersion programming, with bilingual Spanish/English education offered in Kindergarten and 1st grade.  Concord is home to a variety of cultures and features a majority Latino population.  This diversity is celebrated with enriching cultural projects, after-school programming, and parent involvement.

Today we find our blog entry focusing on community feedback from a summer/fall 2010 renovation project made possible through funding by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, Seattle Department of Transportation, and the Seattle Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund that transformed a dangerous eyesore of a pedestrian bridge and turned it into a safe and welcoming asset.  On September 10th, 2010, the grand opening celebration of the “Little Bridge” took place to highlight the new fencing, community involved painting, graffiti removal, and landscaping of the area.

In late January and early February, we went to the “Little Bridge” at S. Henderson St. in South Park, the pedestrian bridge that connects César Chávez Village to Concord.  With help from my supervisor Jen Cole, and fellow Americorps Jenny Almgren from partner organization Cascade Bicycle Club, we conducted brief surveys to identify its current users and to record the opinions and behavioral changes that users associated with the bridge since the renovation project was completed.

The community members of South Park primarily use this pedestrian bridge as an essential utility linking their homes to their workplaces and children’s school, Concord International Elementary.  The latter is the predominant reason why pedestrians take this route, which greatly reduces walking time to the school and features less motor vehicle traffic with fewer roadway crossings.

Our survey respondents reported a substantial increase in their perceived safety and some changes in increased walking behavior.  Those who reported an increase in walking behavior also gave positive comments on the art and safety modifications.

Whether they were walking during their lunch break, doing physical therapy, or coming home from school, we found most pedestrians happy to talk about their walking experience while hailing the bridge improvements.  Two students crossing the bridge after school said, “the bridge looks nicer, but it should have the Concord name or logo!”
One mother remarked how happy the family was about the bridge now being clean and the graffiti gone.  One agreed upon issue remaining is that lighting outages occur occasionally making this dark area even darker, but residents can report these issues using this Seattle City Light form.

Concord students and staff cross the “Little Bridge” on September 10th, 2010 for the grand opening celebration after renovations were completed.

Tune in next time for more community programming!