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.
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.
Students carried homemade and official Yantacaw Walks signs featuring teachers engaging in physical activity, safe driving tips, and fun words of encouragement.
When walkers arrived at school, they were excited by the experience, and as a bonus, received some relevant swag—a pedometer and string backpack.
Everyone who hands in a walk-to-school pledge also receives a Yantacaw Walks dog tag.
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.
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.
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.