The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan Fitness Foundation today announced that 17 elementary and intermediate schools in six counties will receive federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funding. The schools, including one in Dickinson County, will receive mini-grants averaging $4,050 each to develop programs that encourage more students to walk and bicycle safely to school.
MDOT and the Michigan Fitness Foundation work with schools, neighborhoods, students, teachers, parents, school transportation directors and local law enforcement agencies on SRTS initiatives. There are two categories of grant funding. One focuses on eliminating barriers to safe walking and bicycling with such safety improvements as sidewalk replacement and repair, crosswalk marking, installing bike racks and signs, and traffic calming and speed reduction measures. The other category focuses on educational activities to teach children to be safe and responsible on roadways and sidewalks while enjoying the health benefits of physical activity.
The mini-grants announced today will fund educational activities like “Walking School Bus” and “Corner Captains” programs. A “Walking School Bus” is a group of children who walk to school under the supervision of trained adult volunteer leaders, taking safe, designated routes with a timetable and specific meeting points. “Corner Captains” assign trained adult volunteers and station them at selected corners along specific routes to keep a watchful eye on students walking to and from school.
“Safe Routes empowers schools to provide educational campaigns with proven track records,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “With this round of funding, MDOT is helping to establish Safe Routes initiatives in communities all the way from the Upper Peninsula to Detroit. We are pleased to participate in this program.”
“Dixon is a public school with 70 students. About 40 percent walk to school through neighborhoods with abandoned homes and closed industrial facilities,” said Dixon Educational Learning Academy Principal Ora L. Beard. “This will supply eyes and ears in areas where our children are walking to and from school. We welcome this partnership for the safety of our students.”
In Dickinson County, Norway Elementary School will receive a $4,989 mini-grant to develop a weekly Walking School Bus program. Participating students will receive pedometers and water bottles while route leaders will use reflective vests and safety signs to provide extra visibility. The Walking School Bus will involve parents and community leaders as volunteer route leaders. Students who ordinarily are bused or driven to school will be encouraged to get dropped off at designated Walking School Bus stops on one of three routes each Wednesday and walk safely to school.