Yantacaw Walks: Kicking Off

As organizers, we do everything possible to make our initiatives successful. We strategize and plan, communicate and collaborate, anticipate and problem-solve, publicize and promote. Then we cross our fingers and hope for the best.

When Yantacaw Walks kicked off on April 23, over 100 students grades K-6 plus parents, caregivers, and preschool siblings turned out, walking from home or “riding” one of our three teacher-led walking school buses and converging into one giant walking parade led by Bernie the Dog, the Nutley Health Department mascot.

Yantacaw Walks Walking School Bus with Bernie 042314

Bernie the Nutley Health Department mascot stops for a photo op with some walking school bus “riders.”

In addition to our wonderful classroom teachers, our local dignitaries—Commissioner of Public Affairs, Superintendent of Schools, Board of Education Trustee, Principal, School Nurse, and Gym Teacher—joined the parade or welcomed students as they arrived at school.

Yantacaw Walks Kickoff Parade 042314

The Yantacaw Walks walking parade—students, parents, caregivers, preschool siblings, teachers, local dignitaries—heads to school.

Students carried homemade and official Yantacaw Walks signs featuring teachers engaging in physical activity, safe driving tips, and fun words of encouragement.

Yantacaw Walks Teacher Poster

Posters featuring teachers engaging in physical activity encourage students to keep walking.

Yantacaw Walks Safe Driving Poster

Fun posters encourage safe driving. An email alert issued to all residents and an editorial in our local newspaper significantly broadened the reach of the safe-driving message.

When walkers arrived at school, they were excited by the experience, and as a bonus, received some relevant swag—a pedometer and string backpack.

Yantacaw Walks Students Arrive at School 042314

Walkers arrive at school excited, refreshed, and ready to learn.

Everyone who hands in a walk-to-school pledge also receives a Yantacaw Walks dog tag.

Each student who hands in a walk-to-school pledge form receives a Yantacaw Walks dog tag. Students love to show their walking pride (and fashion sense!).

Each student who hands in a walk-to-school pledge form receives a Yantacaw Walks dog tag. Students love to show their walking pride (and fashion sense!).

To date, we’ve received pledge forms from over 230 students, which represents nearly 50% of our student body. Students have pledged to walk to and/or from school anywhere from one day a week to all five days.

Yantacaw Walks Pledge Form Apr 2014

Students pledge to walk to and/or from school anywhere from one day a week to all five days.

One of the primary ways we are sustaining interest and commitment is through our Classroom Challenge. Every class competes within its grade to log the most walks. The class with the most walks overall will be named Grand Champion and take possession of the Golden Sneaker trophy.

Yantacaw Walks Golden Sneaker Trophy

The class with the most walks overall will take possession of the coveted Golden Sneaker Award. Big thanks to the Transportation Authority of Marin Safes Routes to Schools for this fantastic idea.

Thanks to the amazing participation of all stakeholders—town and district officials, school administrators and staff, classroom teachers, parents and children—Yantacaw Walks has gained significant momentum, and we will continue to work together to keep it moving in the right direction.

To follow our progress, visit Yantacaw Walks on Facebook.

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