While students were off for the summer, the Yantacaw Walks team was busy creating presentations to share our work with various audiences, mining our parent survey for feedback to make program improvements, and updating our educational and promotional materials for the 2014-2015 school year.
Plans for Yantacaw Walks include fall and spring Classroom Challenges in which students compete by class and grade to log the most walks. For the colder months, we will pilot Winter Walkers in which students log their walks individually for chances to win small winter-activity-themed prizes such as ice-skating passes. Throughout, we are emphasizing pedestrian safety, and also communicating expectations about safe driving to the larger community through our town-wide alert system and via the press.
Our fall Classroom Challenge kicks off with a dance-walk parade led by two of our wonderful Yantacaw teachers. For a glimpse of the wonders of dance-walking, check out Dance Walking Fitness with Ben Aaron: Time to Dance Walk Baby. Thanks to the organizers of the November 2013 TedX Montclair for putting this idea on our radar!
In addition to our continued efforts at Yantacaw School, we are launching Walker Walks, a new program designed to promote walking to the roughly 600 7th and 8th grade students of John H. Walker Middle School. Students will pledge to walk to/from school during the months of October and November, log their walks, and turn in their completed log forms each month for chances to win small gift cards. The more walks students log, the more chances they have to win.
In-school posters and ongoing loudspeaker announcements will keep Walker Walks present in students’ minds in the context of the school day. While Yantacaw Walks heavily uses Facebook to reach our elementary parent audience, Walker Walks will use Twitter (@WalkerWalks1) to reach students in this age group directly as they develop their independence, with parents as the secondary audience for our communication.
In terms of sharing our work with a broader audience, Yantacaw Walks participated as a panelist in a national webinar and follow-up discussion forum sponsored by America Walks on promoting walking in mid-size towns. In these two lively sessions on August 21st and 28th, we had the privilege to share success stories and challenges alongside our wonderful co-panelists Erica Abbruzzese, Health Educator, Montclair Health Department and Michael Hodges, Health Educator, Bloomfield Health Department. You can view a recorded version of the August 21 webinar anytime.
To follow our progress, visit Yantacaw Walks on Facebook and @WalkerWalks1 on Twitter.