Following International Walk to School (IWALK) month in October, Feet First extends its thanks to all the wonderful schools that submitted entries to the first annual Feet First IWALK Challenge.
The event descriptions told heartwarming tales of schools and communities inspired to get active with their students. We received submissions from every corner of the state – in rural, suburban, and urban areas – and learned much about how creative people can adapt IWALK to suit their community needs. Thank you for sharing your stories!
After weighing the strengths of all applications, our Celebrity Panel of Judges made the tough decisions necessary to identify 3 prize winners from the State. And the winners are…….
Saddle Mountain Elementary School, winner of the “IWALK Champion” prize!
On a cold and windy October 3rd, the planners of a first-time IWALK event in the rural Wahluke School District weren’t sure what to expect in terms of participation. In the district’s 3 elementary schools, PE teachers had been giving their all to event promotion. The district transportation department arranged for an optional yellow bus drop-off at a safe location one mile from school, and walk routes were chosen to carefully avoid areas of high gang activity that are of concern in this community. They had optimistically expected between 300 and 500 walkers. They were delighted when the count topped 900! The school nutritionist prepared hot, healthful breakfasts for students and their parents, and certificates signed by all 3 principals were awarded to walkers. IWALK Judges saw in this first-time event very high levels of participation and enthusiasm, and felt that they had witnessed the beginning of an IWALK tradition in Wahluke. The “IWALK Champion” Prize will bring this school $250 worth of active play equipment from USGames.com.
West Seattle Elementary School, winner of the “Shoes for a Classroom” prize!
The Healthy Husky Club, comprised of 4th and 5th grade students, created posters, made school-wide daily announcements, and submitted newsletter articles to the Husky News Club to remind their peers about a week-long IWALK Challenge. They held weekly meetings to design the event, which included heavy emphasis on student recognition. During the week of October 22nd, students who walked or rode bikes to school, and students who walked to bus and other transit, received toe tokens and had their photos taken for publication in the school newsletter. In a school where 90% of the students are eligible for free or reduced meals, IWALK brought more students to school on time and ready for breakfast – a goal the school has been working on since last year. For their excellence in IWALK promotion, this school will receive 35 pairs of sneakers from our program sponsor, Brooks Shoes!
Lake Grove Elementary School, winner of the “Best First IWALK” prize!
The first-time IWALK event for this Federal Way elementary school started strong, with a team 18 staff members working together to make it happen. They created a walk-boundary map and organized 3 walking school buses, which they marked with signs along the route. Student safety patrol tripled in preparation for the day. One walking school bus stretched more than 3 blocks and brought neighbors out to smile and wave at the parade of families. “I heard from many of my kids that they didn’t know someone lived near them and now they can walk to school together,” said 2nd grade teacher and walking school bus leader, Gina Harada. At the school, walkers signed leopard paw prints –267 in all – that are now displayed proudly in the school entryway. In a neighborhood where many students could walk but few do, IWALK “brought a spirit of connectedness and community to the school,” according to 4th & 5th grade teacher Garrett Chan. “What a great feeling!” Another great feeling will come when the school’s PE Department gets to use their $125 gift certificate for more active play equipment.
Honorable mentions go out to these schools for their IWALK event:
West Woodland Elementary School in Seattle, that incorporated IWALK into a comprehensive walking school bus program that brings a large percentage of students to school by foot all year long;
Willard Elementary School in Spokane, that balanced IWALK with a community-wide safety education campaign because of difficult walking conditions near the school; and
Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle, that successfully engaged young adolescent students in issues of walkability, bicycle safety, and personal investment in their school community.
Congratulations, to all of the participating schools! We also would like to extend one final THANK YOU to our panel of judges: Dr. Brian Johnston of Harborview Medical Center, Tracy Taylor of KING5 TV, and State Representative Andy Billig of Spokane. Your generosity and commitment to the health and safety of Washington students is exemplary. All schools that submitted entries to the IWALK Challenge will receive a certificate from this panel of judges. Keep an eye out for the mail!
And a final THANK YOU to sponsors, for believing in the power of IWALK to get children walking, and for all your help to make the first annual Feet First IWALK Challenge such a success!