Activate gives bikes to students

Albert Harris Elementary School bike winners are (front, from left) Dajonnae Koger, 1st grade; Jordan Thomas, second grade; Ashley Hairston, fifth grade; Stacey Woods, kindergarten; Gerri White, third grade; and Tyler Terry, fourth grade. In back are (fro

June 11, 2008

Activate staff attended the award ceremonies for Albert Harris and Patrick Henry Elementary schools and the carnival at Martinsville Middle School to present bicycles to students who won them in drawings.

The bicycles were an incentive for parents to complete the Safe Routes to School Parent Survey. These surveys are used to collect data on the thoughts and opinions of parents on walking and biking to school. This data will be used nationally by the National Center for Safe Routes to School and by the Activate staff for a Safe Routes to School grant application through SAFETEA-LU.

Bike winners were Brittany Gill, Terence Rudd, Daniel Bradley, Shakis Moore, Shanica Martin, Megan Goldsberry and Jonathan Moyer of Martinsville Middle School; Dajonnae Koger, Jordan Thomas, Ashely Hairston, Stacey Woods, Gerri White and Tyler Terry of Albert Harris Elementary School;  and Ryan Lemons, Jameka Wilson, Kendall Rupert, Brandon Hernandez, Danielle Wright and Brittany Taylor of Patrick Henry Elementary School.

Activate has identified and is working with four local schools, Albert Harris, Laurel Park Middle, Patrick Henry and Martinsville Middle, to put into action Safe Routes to School programs. With the support of Martinsville City Council, Activate anticipates the submission of a grant application to the Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) Program this fall.

"SRTS is a federal-aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)," said Jeannie Frisco, program manager for Activate, which encourages area residents to become more active. "The SRTS program is fully funded by federal grants and does not require and additional local funding."

"The program began in 2005, and $612 million has been awarded over five federal fiscal years and is to be administered by state departments of transportation. This program provides funds to substantially improve the ability of primary and middle school students to walk and bicycle to school safely."

Frisco said that it is anticipated that an infrastructure projects (engineering improvements) grant and non-infrastructure related activites (such as education, enforcement and encouragement programs) grant will be submitted simultaneously.

"This grant can be used to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel comsumption and air pollution in the vicinity (approximately two miles) of primary and middle schools," she added.

Melissa Gravely, education/outreach coordinator with Activate, said the parent survey is one of the first steps in implementing a SRTS program at any school.

"It is very important to have parent involvement for program success," and a bike giveaway offered incentives for parents and provided new bikes for 18 children, Gravely said. Children, also received helments and booklets on bike safety and rules of the road, she added.

As part of the Safe Routes to School programming, Activate is already working toward encouraging schools and parents to create walking school buses for children who live within a one-mile radius of their school and continuing events such as International Walk to School Day.

Activate also is working on the education component by offering BikeSmart Virginia Certification for physical education curriculum, and working with the city of Martinsville on improving infrastructure so children can walk and ride safely to school.


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