Building Excitement Before your IWALK event

IWALK planning blog #5

This is the fifth posting in a series of blogs about International Walk to School Day (IWALK) events, intended to help schools, parents and volunteers organize IWALK events in October.  Learn more about IWALK here.

Building excitement for your IWALK event

In the last weeks leading up to your IWALK event, the most important task is to invite people to your party! Make sure everyone knows when the event is taking place and what they need to do to participate.  It sounds simple enough, but trust us, it takes concentration and tending to do this effectively.

HOW to communicate

A helpful rule of thumb is to advertise your event in at least 5 ways. Possibilities include:

  1. Written communications.  a newsletter article, flyer sent home via “backpack mail,” or leaflets handed to parents as they pick-up their children at school.  Approach your school’s multi-lingual services early if you need translations.
  2. Phone calls.  More and more school districts are gaining the technology to make automated calls to all families.  Check with your principal.
  3. Hallway displays.  Student art-work has a great impact.  A map of your walk area can be very helpful to show walking school bus meeting times and locations.  Photos from previous years are a big draw, too!
  4. Word of mouth.  This can happen friend-to-friend, via phone-tree, or by being present before and after school to speak to other families.
  5. Technology.  Take advantage of any email or web-based communications used by your school.  Post an article to your school website.   Send a message via your PTA listserv.  
  6. Look up!  In addition to internal communications, let your plans be known to local businesses, blogs, or media outlets.  If you are trying to attract media attention, prepare a press release now to send out a week before your event.

WHAT to communicate

Samples of newsletter articles, punch cards, flyers and more can be found at Feet First’s IWALK resource page.  You will need to tailor and finalize all the details to fit the event you’ve designed.

If you are organizing walking school buses or parades, you will need to have identified leaders and schedules for each route.  If given permission, share leader phone numbers on your flyers so that participants can coordinate with them directly.  If your principal, teachers, or celebrities plan to attend, advertise it broadly to attract more walkers!

If you are using punch cards, you can adapt any of the models available in our resource files, or make one yourself.  You will need to decide when and how you want to distribute and collect them, and then what you want to do with any data you collect.  For an example, see Feet First’s “Walk Around the World” campaign at Concord Elementary.

If you are offering prizes, give specifics about what students need to do to get them.  Will participants get a “toe token” every time they walk, and if so, where do they go to pick it up?  Will punch-cards be collected at the end of the month for a drawing?  Are there different prizes for various levels of participation? 

Please use the comment section below to share other ideas about how to build excitement for your IWALK event.  And don’t forget to:

  1. register your event on the national IWALK website, and
  2. sign up for the Feet First IWALK Challenge!

 Past IWALK Blogs from Feet First:

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