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Dublin Schools Celebrate 2012 International Walk to School Month

October 5, 2012

If you’ve noticed a greater number of students walking to our local schools recently, it may not be a coincidence. October is International Walk to School Month. This initiative was introduced in Great Britain in 1994. The United States hosted its first walk event in Chicago in 1997. Subsequently, it has exploded into a global program that includes over 40 countries and millions of walkers around the world.

The goals of the program are quite simple. The leaders wanted to encourage physical activity, to reduce congestion/pollution and to provide a platform for community leaders, parents and children to engage with one another. In a great example of collaboration, the City of Dublin and the Dublin Unified School District joined forces to make a lasting imprint. The week of October 1st became “Walk and Roll to School Week”. While walking is one way to get to school, many of our students elect to ride their bicycles instead.

Last Saturday morning, a hands-on event was hosted by the Parks and Community Services Department. It took place at Frederiksen Elementary School and the mission was to help families to learn safe bicycling skills. Over the 2 ½ hour course, there were game drills and a discussion about building safe biking habits. Additionally, a BikeMobile was present to provide free bike tune-ups for all participants. To help understand the scope of the City’s collaboration with our schools and the Dublin Bikeways program, OneDublin.org visited with Erin Steffen. Ms. Steffen works in the Dublin Community Development Department and has led the Bikeways program for over five years.

OneDublin.org: How did you feel that the Family Bicycle Workshop met its goals?

Erin Steffen: “Our event was organized in concert with the City of Dublin, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and Cycles of Change. It was a great kickoff to Walk and Roll to School Week in Dublin. Youth and adults alike were given the chance to practice key bicycling skills in a supervised and safe environment which included obstacle course drills and real-life road situations. By practicing those skills, cyclists will be more confident riding throughout Dublin”.

OneDublin.org: You are clearly passionate about the Bikeways program. Help us understand how this was developed and its overall goal.

Steffen: “In 2007, the Dublin City Council approved its first Bikeways Master Plan. The purpose of the plan is three-fold: to consider the needs of bicyclists in balance with other modes of travel; to encourage bicycling as a healthy and enjoyable activity; and to increase access to parks, trails, and open space, as well as to jobs and community facilities. Shortly thereafter the Bikeways Master Plan was approved, I was placed in charge of developing the programming component, which includes education, outreach, and encouragement of bicycling in Dublin”.

OneDublin.org: On Monday, your organization hosted a community discussion at the Library on the Bikeways program. Why was this important?

Steffen: “During this fiscal year, the City of Dublin is updating the 2007 Bikeways Master Plan and is expanding the scope of the plan to include a pedestrian element. The first Community Workshop was held to help begin a dialogue with the community on where they would like to see improvements to walking and bicycling facilities in Dublin. Input collected from the workshops will help us shape the updated Bikeways Master Plan.

At Dougherty Elementary School, they took Walk and Roll to School to a different level. A Monday assembly was conducted to get the entire site excited about this upcoming week. As Wednesday was International Walk to School Day, OneDublin.org visited to view their results. Parent/Guardian volunteers staffed tables at all four corners of the school to greet students. Healthy snacks and donated items made the morning extra special. JDS was able to distribute LED reflectors, coloring books, pencils, posters and bottled water to those that participated. There were also Cold Stone Creamery gift cards that were awarded as part of a lottery. The donated items were provided by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, the City of Dublin and the Dougherty PFC. What were Wednesday’s results? 83.9% of the students and teaching staff participated in the International Walk and Roll to School Day. OneDublin.org quickly visited with Principal Brett Nelson to gain his perspective on the week.

OneDublin.org: In celebrating Walk and Roll to School Week, what lessons were you trying to convey to your students and their families?

Brett Nelson: “That walking is healthy and that we are always busy and need to slow down and enjoy simple things like walking to school”.

OneDublin.org: The vicinity of Dougherty appears to be very “walk friendly”. What are your expectations as we move through the remainder of the school year?

Nelson: “I do not believe that we will sustain a high number of walkers regularly but if we can get parent to even once a week walk with their children; that is a win. They group up fast”.

OneDublin.org: What feedback did you receive from your students and staff?

Nelson: “The students loved it, especially the prizes, and the staff was very engaged and excited about it”.

By any measure of success, this week’s event was a huge success. These Dougherty Dolphins really know how to “walk and roll”.

Dublin High School is also holding Walk and Roll to School events – read more.

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