Some of these ideas are quite simple and others are more complex. Take a look at this list and choose what fits the event and community. Many of these strategies came from International Walk to School Award applicants. Read all of the applications for even more ideas and to find out how full programs were designed.
- Carry signs that display pedestrian safety messages.
- Have a nutritious breakfast before or after the walk.
- Incorporate a walking theme into a physical education class.
- Invite the school mascot or wear school colors while walking.
- Use the Walkability Checklist or make a list of problems spotted along the walk.
- Take disposable cameras on the route and document possible pedestrian hazards.
- Carry colorful balloons during the walk.
- Play walking songs.
- Hold a walk during lunchtime.
- Ask the mayor to sign an Official Proclamation for International Walk to School.
- Invite local celebrities to participate.
- Have kids design promotional materials for the event.
- Hold a pep rally before the walk.
- Take a tour of an ambulance or fire truck in conjunction with the walk.
- Create a walking web site.
- Hold a safety coloring contest.
- Have community leaders greet and congratulate kids as they arrive at school.
- Do a flag salute before the event.
- Make and hang posters promoting the event at school, along the walking route and throughout the community.
- Provide parents with maps of safe routes to school.
- Use the school PA’s system to announce pedestrian and bike safety tips and make reminders about the event.
- Have the students help plan the event.
- Hold a pedestrian safety assembly or “question and answer” session for the kids along with the walk.
- Use the concept of a walking school bus at the event.
- Encourage students to work towards a school-wide goal of “One Million Minutes of Motion.”
- For schools that are too far or dangerous for walking, use the event to kick-off a year-round walking-at-recess program.
- Have older elementary students use the walkability checklist and present the results to the city council.
- Use the day to showcase safety changes that have already been made to build support for future improvements.
- Mark routes to school with the mascot’s prints.
- Work with your local health department to promote physical activity.
- So that children who live further away can participate and to reduce traffic congestion at school, designate an area for parents to Park and Walk.
- Student walkers and cyclists collect “stamps” for “passports” which are redeemed for pencils, pencil cases and other small gifts.
- Provide an area where children can store wet walking shoes and change into dry ones.
- Create a student “Walk to School Committee” responsible for calculating, posting and announcing statistics about the number of walkers, miles walked or any other related goals.
- Create a “5-minute Walking Zone” around the school. Assign students the task of measuring and promoting it.
- Invite parents and grandparents for refreshments at the school on the first Walking Wednesday of every month.
- Parents or students write songs and have them sung by the school choir.
- Choose a motto that captures the reason for walking or biking to school, like “spare the air, save a bear.” Give out gummy bears as treats in keeping with the theme.
- Set a unique school- or class-wide mileage goal like climbing Mount Everest, walking the Nile or walking the Great Wall of China. Daily reports calculated by students chart the progress. For a week-long event, use Friday to present a certificate at a school assembly to recognize the accomplishment. Study the target destination and plan a party based on the local culture for when the group “arrives.”
- Design and laminate a Frequent Walker Punch Card that hangs from students’ backpacks. Choose regular and “surprise” walking days to punch cards good towards small gifts.
- Plan a school-wide event to recognize the day, such as a picnic, an assembly, an awards ceremony or a pizza party for the class with the most walkers.
- Develop walking themes for each day of the week and have children correspond their clothing to those days: safety colors day, green for the environment day, school colors day, get fit fitness clothes day, etc.
- Designate the first Wednesday of the month, or every Wednesday, as Walk to School Wednesday.
- Reward the class that has the greatest percentage of students walking to school at least three days a week, and the one that collectively walks the greatest distance. Also reward the class that increases their percentage of walkers the most over the month, semester, or year.
- A pedometer is a small, pager-sized step counter worn on the hip; some are available for as little as $4 a piece in bulk. Get them for kids and see if they can increase their total daily steps because of their walks to and from school.
- Have students list the top ten ways they got parents to walk with them, top ten funny things they saw while walking, top ten reasons to walk, top ten things that must be improved, top ten walking songs or poems. Have monthly contests or votes to pick the best ten school-wide.
- Do the mile walk challenge. Walk a mile for time at the beginning of the year, then repeat after eight months of walking to (or at) school, and note the improvement in time.
Encourage walking and bicycling by incorporating related topics into the classroom.
Art, Computer Class
Create posters promoting Walk to School Day and safe driving and walking messages.
Survey and create maps of walking routes to school.
Use pedometers to measure steps, or simply measure walking time accumulated by students; study health benefits of physical activity.
Do some physical conditioning. Learn walking warm-ups and stretches and do some progressively longer walks in class to prepare for Walk to School Day.
Keep logs of walking time or steps; calculate speeds and distances, individual and group averages, trends and statistical analyses (do boys or girls walk more?)
Study the biomechanics of walking. For example, measure stride lengths-do they vary with height, weight, age, leg length? How does walking speed depend on you step speed and stride length?
Look for specific plant or animal species, or inventory indigenous species along walking routes. Catalogue seasonal changes in the flora and fauna.
Write press releases and public service announcements to promote Walk to School Day. Write essays or keep a diary about your experiences walking.
Study historical locations in your community by walking to them.
Photograph important things about your community observed while walking to school. Anything you’d like to change? What can you do about it?