New Maine Walking School Bus Videos Released!

Thanks to financial support from the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Transportation and the able assistance of filmmaker Terrence T. Wolfe, the Maine Walking School Bus Program now has four informational program videos!

The videos consist of three short (1 minute) video segments featuring interviews and shots of existing Walking School Buses for three audiences:

(1) prospective community applicants:

Maine Walking School Bus – What Schools are Saying from Bicycle Coalition of Maine on Vimeo.

(2) potential community volunteers for each local program:

What Volunteers are Saying from Bicycle Coalition of Maine on Vimeo.

(3) local students and families who are prospective participants:

What Students are Saying from Bicycle Coalition of Maine on Vimeo.

A longer (2.5 minute) compilation video presents all of the clips together in a single informative video:

Maine Walking School Bus – The Walking School Bus Program from Bicycle Coalition of Maine on Vimeo.

Feel free to utilize these videos to share more about the program, start your own Walking School Buses using our Online Toolkit, and encourage your local school(s) to apply!

Application Now Open - Due November 13 | October Info Calls

This fall, through another competitive application process, the Maine WSB Program Team will be selecting up to 3 new schools with which to work to launch Walking School Bus programs in the spring of 2016.

Please sign up for one of our Informational Calls on October 15, 20, or 29 here.

Application deadline is November 13, 2015See Application and How to Apply here.

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Ellsworth & Norway: Two New Communities Join Maine's Walking School Bus Program!

School & local leaders from Norway meet with WSB Program as part of the grant application process.

School & local leaders from Norway meet with WSB Program as part of grant application process.

The Maine Walking School Bus (WSB) Program is very pleased to announce that Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway and Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School are the two latest recipients of grants to start daily walking school bus programs in their communities.  The 2-year grant will provide a stipend for a WSB program coordinator who will be based in each school and receive ongoing technical assistance from WSB Program staff.

WSB Program staff and community leaders walk potential routes in Norway as part of vetting their application.

WSB Program & community leaders walk potential routes in Norway.

Both schools scored very highly for their WSB Program applications submitted this past fall – and during their site visit meetings and route review walks in December.  The two communities have participated in Safe Routes to School activities in the past – for example, holding events, conducting bicycle and pedestrian safety education, attending previous Walking School Bus trainings, and working on infrastructure improvements in their communities.  All of these help foster a successful Walking School Bus Program.

Community Workshop in Ellsworth - led by the Walking School Bus Program.

Community Workshop in Ellsworth – led by the Walking School Bus Program.

The schools recently held their WSB program community workshops and we were very impressed by the extent of community support and enthusiasm for the program shown by participants. Both WSB programs are due to launch in the spring. Portland’s East End Community School piloted a WSB program starting in 2013 and is now funded through the statewide Walking School Bus Program as well; it continues to be an excellent example of success.

Ellsworth and Norway have both celebrated walking and biking to school for several years. This photo from Ellsworth.

Ellsworth and Norway have both celebrated walking and biking to school for several years. This photo from Ellsworth.

The Maine Walking School Bus Program is funded by a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and is administered by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Maine Safe Routes to School Program. The program also partners with the Maine Department of Transportation. Interested communities will have another chance to apply to the program in Fall 2015.  For more information please sign up for our e-mail newsletter in the right sidebar.

 

Collaborating with AAA Safety Patrol to Help Lead the Walking School Bus

Written by Sarah Cushman, Southern Maine Planner (consultant) for the Maine Safe Routes to School Program

We had a great meeting today with AAA of Northern New England and their National Office to discuss a possible pilot collaboration between the long-standing and classic AAA School Safety Patrol and our efforts to develop a student walk leader program within our Maine Walking School Bus Program.  With upper elementary students showing and seeking leadership roles within the Walking School Bus, and with the on-going need for additional volunteer walk leader help as our daily Walking School Bus routes grow, this could feed two birds with one seed.

AAA NNE & WSB 123114

L-R: Dan Goodman, AAA NNE; Maddy Ray, East End Community School Walking School Bus Coordinator; Sarah Cushman, Southern Maine Planner (consultant) for the Safe Routes to School Program. Maddy & Sarah pictured with AAA’s School Safety Patrol sashes and badges that are worn by student patrolers.

I and Maddy Ray, the East End Community School Walking School Bus Coordinator here in Portland, met with AAA of Northern New England’s Pat Moody, Manager of Public Affairs, and Dan Goodman, their new Traffic Safety Specialist (Note: this is the same great Dan Goodman formerly of Go Maine and the Regional Transportation Program (RTP).)  The meeting also included Jennifer Huebner Davidson, the Manager of Traffic Safety Advocacy at the AAA National Office (via phone).

We led folks through the ins and outs of our daily school-run Walking School Bus program here in Portland and also what is unfolding across the state. Then Jennifer shared her knowledge and perspective from working with the thousands of schools across the country with active AAA School Safety Patrol programs (currently there are 635,000 student Patrolers!) for how we could utilize the existing AAA program structure to implement a hybrid student walk leader program for our local students.

Within our local program we carry the desire both to do authentic youth engagement and to meet our primary goal to improve safety. So we’ve been living with the question of how to clearly define the role of our future student walk leaders.  I.e., what would student leaders be permitted to do and not permitted to do – to keep kids safe on the walk to school?  We’ve been seeking input both from the students, adult program management, and consulting with other folks involved with Safe Routes to School around the country – but it was a real boon to hear Jennifer’s broad insight and clear-cut answers.  In turn, she was excited about this potential pilot hybridization and offered ongoing guidance as we proceed to explore it.  Pat and Dan have been very supportive as well – having brought Jennifer in as a resource after we approached them and also offering local AAA technical assistance, diverse connections, and School Safety Patrol materials as we proceed.

We’ve got work to do to develop the program and implement it (we’re hoping to pilot it in Spring 2015) but we’ve found some more friends to walk with us along the way.  It’s an exciting time!

Maine Safe Routes to School Profiled in Upcoming Webinar! 

Recruiting and Training Volunteers for Long Term Success
Thursday, May 15, 2-3pm

[Editor’s note on archived webinar: Listen to an audio recording here. (Please note the visual portion isn’t correct due to technical difficulties, but you can hear the full audio at this link and refer to the slides below.)  View PowerPoint slides: Kelli Huinkler, Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health – slides; Sonia Campos, Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles – slides; Sarah Cushman, Safe Routes to School Maine – slides.] 

On Thursday, May 15th, from 2-3 p.m., the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is hosting a free webinar on Recruiting and Training Volunteers for Long Term Success.

Our very own Sarah Cushman, Southern Maine Planner for Maine Safe Routes to School, will be one of the presenters – talking specifically about successes and lessons learned through the Portland Walking School Bus Program! This webinar is one of a two-part series that will explore tried-and-true methods for working with volunteers in Safe Routes to School programs and other school-based volunteer initiatives.

Join in to hear Sarah and the other speakers discuss the ways they have recruited and trained volunteers and created sustainable, long-lasting relationships within their schools and communities.