Oregon's Malabon Elementary Wins PeopleForBikes Award
This blog post is also published at PeopleForBikes.org.
Norene Walters (left) brought the Fire Up Your Feet program to Malabon Elementary in Eugene, OR. (Image: Sam Stroich)
It all started when Malabon Elementary School parent Norene Walters’ bike was stolen from the school last September. Norene, used to staying active by biking in every morning with her three children, could have used the incident as an excuse to stop riding. Instead, she used it as motivation to get more kids and families on bikes.
Norene registered the school in Fire Up Your Feet, a program developed by the Safe Routes To School National Partnership to encourage children, parents, and staff to walk and bike to school and stay healthy and active. This fall, PeopleForBikes joined with the National Partnership to offer awards of $500 each to 12 schools with the most biking minutes in their region or state.
Norene recognized this great opportunity for Malabon and went to the principal to ask what the school could do to rally its community around the program’s Fall Challenge. “We had already scheduled a school jog-a-thon for October, so I figured we could kick it all off with an active event we were already doing,” she said.
Malabon, located in a suburban section of Eugene, Oregon, is far from the epicenter of bike-friendly Portland. But the elementary school has a large number of students who live within a mile or two and regularly walk or bike throughout the year, so Norene expected a strong turnout for the state Walk+Bike to School Day on October 8th. “It was perfect timing because up until the end of October when it gets really rainy, a lot of kids bike to school,” she said.
As the school coordinator for Fire Up Your Feet, Norene kept track of all the students who participated in Walk+Bike to School Day using the Fire Up Your Feet online activity tracker. She also asked teachers to keep a count of who walked or biked to school each day during the month. And of course she encouraged everyone she knew to participate.
“We are grateful to Fire Up Your Feet and PeopleForBikes for giving us the motivation to rally around the Challenge and provide our students with more opportunities to walk and bike,” Norene said.
Malabon Elementary’s enthusiasm—and Norene’s commitment—paid off. During the Fall Challenge, Malabon took home the 2nd place overall award, two weekly Challenge awards, and the PeopleForBikes award for most biking to school in Oregon.
So how will Malabon put the award money to use? The school is currently in the process of being rebuilt and new bike racks were just installed, so Norene is suggesting that they use the funding to build a secure cage around the racks so that no one has to worry about a bike being stolen. Fire Up Your Feet has arranged special discounts for award winners with Saris, Spark PE and other companies and programs that help schools make it even easier to walk or bike.
As for Norene, she scored a great deal on a new bike on Black Friday and has been happy to hop back on two wheels with her family. "The weather in Oregon was surprisingly dry over the holiday break, so we took advantage of the sun and spent a bunch of time on our bikes. Now that school is back in session we are back to our routine of pedaling to class and happy to see the bike racks filling up."
Image: Sam Stroich