Creating Safe Routes to Chicago schools
For the past year, the Active Transportation Alliance has been working with Chicago Public Schools and its Office of Student Health and Wellness to promote walking and biking to and from school as part of the Healthy CPS initiative. You can read more about the project in this NewCity article: Paving the Way for Safe Routes to School.
This summer we plan to post regular stories on Active Trans’ work on this project, highlighting various ways schools in Chicago are working to integrate active transportation into their school wellness activities. Here’s the first article in the series.
In October 2012, the Chicago Board of Education adopted a new Local School Wellness Policy to promote healthier school environments. One aspect of the policy was for schools to create Wellness Teams, a group of staff, parents and/or students who focus on implementing the Wellness Policy and promoting general wellness and physical activity in the school.
School Wellness Teams have been great partners for Active Trans during the Healthy CPS project. They provide the perfect place to gain feedback and to ensure the sustainability of a Safe Routes to School program long-term.
At Funston Elementary School at 2010 N. Central Park Ave. in Logan Square, Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) — an Active Trans partner — helped the school form its Wellness Team. Using AFHK’s “Game On!” framework (which includes components to promote walking and biking to and from school), Funston’s Wellness Team has worked to promote wellness throughout the school.
As part of the Healthy CPS project, Active Trans met with the Wellness Team this spring to launch its Safe Routes to School initiative. The Wellness Team helped conduct travel tallies, which showed that a majority of students — 61 percent — already walk to the school.
The Wellness Team was also able to obtain nearly 150 parent surveys, which detail parental attitudes and concerns, and helped coordinate a parent meeting to garner direct feedback (see photos). Results will be used to create recommendations for ways to increase the number of students who walk and bike to school and to improve walking and biking conditions.
Moving forward, the Wellness Team at Funston will continue to be a central partner for Active Trans in implementing recommendations and making biking and walking safer and easier for students and community residents alike.