Workshop helps grant writers refine 'Safe Routes' requests
Experience can be one of the best teachers so ITD’s Safe Routes to School program recently offered applicants for safe routes funding an opportunity to mine knowledge from representatives of SR2S programs funded previously.
About 28 people representing Idaho schools, nonprofit organizations, local governments and other state agencies met in Boise last week (May 30) to learn about organizing and implementing a successful safe routes campaign.
ITD will distribute safe routes funds totaling $1 million in 2009 for local projects designed to encourage children to walk and bicycle to school.
Nicole Swaggerty and Meg Schultz discussed Treasure Valley Family YMCA’s Safe Routes to School program and led workshop participants through the process of planning and funding an SR2S campaign.
Also on hand and offering help was Guy Bliesner from the Bonneville School District (Idaho Falls). Bliesner co-authored five successful safe routes grants and created an SR2S guidebook for the Bonneville School District. He shared the guidebook with training session attendees.
Swaggerty, safe routes coordinator for the YMCA, talked about organizing and launching her SR2S effort during the program’s first year.
“Identify people who want to make walking and biking to school safe and appealing for kids,” she said. “Champions, collaboration and creativity are the keys to success.”
Successful safe routes programs involve parents, children, community members, teachers and school staff, traffic engineers, city planners, law enforcement, community leaders, and many others, according to Josephine O’Connor, program coordinator at ITD.
Schultz is a teacher and parent who serves on Idaho’s SR2S Advisory Committee where she helps review safe routes grant applications. She is on the front line of SR2S efforts at Shadow Hills Elementary School in Boise as leader of her school’s committee.
“I’m really excited when I see our bike rack with three times the number of bikes parked there now,” she said.
“Teachers notice the difference in students on walk-to-school days,” Schultz explained. “They (students) seem more ready to work.”
Sue Newberry, a regional Safe Routes to School advocate, facilitated the day-long training session.
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Photos: Rick Ames of the Jerome School District listens to pointers on writing a successful Safe Routes to School grant (top) while Nicole Swaggerty of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA shares lessons she learned about the process (bottom).