Walnut Grove is Wild for Walking and Biking
Walnut Grove Elementary in Vancouver, Washington was already planning to go big for Bike to School Day this May, so it made a lot of sense for Carina Brunner, program specialist and dean of students, to organize a push for Fire Up Your Feet at the same time. ”I heard about the Challenge from our Family Community Resources Coordinator – she gave me a heads up because she knew we were talking about building a cool program around Bike to School Day. Together we were able to pull this whole thing off,” said Ms. Brunner.
Leading up to Bike to School Day, students and staff at Walnut Grove built up as much excitement and talk about biking and rolling and walking to school as possible. Teachers even stood in sandwich boards the day before the big event reminding students to walk, bike, or skateboard to school. On the day of the event, there was music playing and festivities when the kids rolled or walked up to school. Kids were joined by some of the staff who also biked to school.
“It was a special event. We have 700 students and almost all of them are coming from apartment buildings in the neighborhood around school, but there are no sidewalks so normally they have to use school buses. It takes a special day like Bike to School Day for us to make sure there are enough kids biking that people will be aware of them on the roads and it will be safer,” said Ms. Brunner.
Biking wasn’t the only activity that Walnut Grove was fired up about. During the Challenge, students also tracked PE classes, dance classes, track practices, Mindful Me classes, and structured activities outside recess. “Capture the flag and kickball are two of the structured activities that kids loved – even though the Challenge ended, we’re still doing it!” said Ms. Brunner.
The Fire Up Your Feet Challenge brought awareness of physical activity to kids who weren’t active in general. “It made students think, ‘Hey, there are things I could be doing instead of just saying inside after school.’ Kickball, track, even just getting together with friends and playing outside,” said Ms. Brunner.
Thanks to the students’ commitment and enthusiasm, Walnut Grove took home the first place award as well as the Rookie of the Year award in the Spring Challenge. The school plans to use the award money to upgrade playground and recess equipment, replacing older equipment with newer and safer options. And since structured recess programs were such a big hit with the students, Ms. Brunner plans to look to other programs for inspiration for new activities to bring to the students.
Way to go, Walnut Grove!