This Fall marks the fourth year of Safe Routes to School Tucson’s partnership with Los Amigos Tech Academy, and we couldn’t be more blown away by the energy and dedication of their staff, teachers, parents and students. With nearly 300 students participating in weekly Walk ‘N Roll Fridays, the school has rallied a whole community to support families in leaving their cars at home, and instead try walking, scooting and biking to school together. Los Amigos Tech Academy has similar challenges to other schools where on most days, school arrival and dismissal is congested with cars and buses. With half of all students normally arriving to school by car and the other half on school buses, the school has successfully created opportunities for students to try a different way of traveling.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cultivating a culture of walking and biking, here are just a few ways that Los Amigos Tech Academy stands out:
Special staff and teachers who are amazing walking/biking champions!
A team of about twenty teachers arrives to school early every Friday morning to lead walking school buses and bicycle trains. Mrs. Flores, the school librarian who leads the School Health and Wellness Committee has been a tremendous champion, recruiting other teachers to help with the walks. On Walk ‘N Roll Days, Ms. Sandoval, the school principal can be spotted on Tucson Boulevard, taking on crossing guard duties while giving her students high-fives. But why are the teachers so dedicated to this initiative? Many report that their students arrive to school in a much better mood. This is also a special time to connect with students and their families outside of their classrooms. Plus, teachers enjoying getting some fresh air and exercise too!
Inviting community leaders to Walk ‘N Roll with students.
In the last three years, the school has hosted a number of different walks with local politicians and other community leaders. So far this school year, students have already hosted two separate walks with Congressman Raul Grijalva and Councilman Richard Fimbres. Board members from Sunnyside Unified School District have often joined in on the fun too. For many families, this has been a powerful way show decision-makers the need and desire for a healthier community.
Being creative and making walking and biking to school special and fun.
Students have a blast when their walk and bike to school is new and interesting. Most recently, Wilbur the Wildcat made an appearance, rollerblading alongside hundreds of students on Drexel Road. The school also hosted the Desert View high school cheer squad and mascot to join in the festivities. Neighborhood businesses often sponsor special walks, serving coffee and breakfast goodies to students and parents. Plus, every week students earn “toe tokens” that they collect on necklaces, showing off their “flare” for all their hard work. The school also loves classroom challenges to encourage participation, with incentives for classrooms to earn free-dress days or extra PE time for walking and rolling to school.
We’re excited for this school year and looking forward to connecting with this special school community.
You can visit our Safe Routes to School website to learn more about our programs and resources.