Schmitt Elementary's Walking School Bus Keeps On Going
Schmitt Elementary is a Denver, Colorado neighborhood school without busing, so students walk, bike, or are driven to school by their parents. The school learned about the Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge through Denver’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator and connected with the challenge immediately. Having a safe, walkable community is critically important to Schmitt Elementary. Like all children, they need safe places to play, as well as safe, healthy, and dependable routes to school.
Fire Up Your Feet helped motivate Schmitt to start a walking school bus by exposing them to other schools who were making moves to ensure that their students were active on the commute to and from school. Every Friday teachers and community volunteers walked through the neighborhood with Schmitt students making sure they got to school in a safe, healthy, and timely fashion. They tracked how many students participated in the walking school bus each week on the one-third mile long route, averaging about five students each week. Throughout the whole challenge, they had roughly 20 different students participating at one time or another.
During the challenge, the walking school bus saw one of the school's parents loading up her car to take her children to school. Drew Weisel, a Schmitt teacher, quickly jogged over to her and told her they would be happy to make sure that her children got to school safely and on time. Mr. Weisel said, “The look of relief on her face was priceless, and the students, 3rd grade and kindergarten, had a blast walking with the walking school bus.”
Mr. Weisel shared, “The biggest challenge we face is not a challenge of body, but a challenge of mind. We need to change a lot of folks' mindsets about walking to school, because for many people the thought never crossed their mind. It's really helpful to see stories of what other schools and communities are doing, not only to see what's possible, but to inspire us as well.” The school is very familiar with Safe Routes to School, and would love to see more families walking to school, and better sidewalks in their neighborhood.
Schmitt was fortunate enough to receive awards for their hard work - the "School Champion Award" and the "I'm Safe Award" from Fire Up Your Feet. The best part is the walking school bus didn’t come to a halt at the end of the challenge. Schmitt students will continue to roll on towards safe and healthy routes to school and hope to expand the walking school bus to more days and routes.