Tag Archives: Walk to School

Back to School Safety Tips

18 Aug

It is that time of the year again! Schools in our area are starting classes on September 5. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

 

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at busier intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school. Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

And drivers should lookout for children, slow down, obey speed limits in school zones and be prepared to stop for school buses.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.

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Back to School Safety Tips

19 Aug

It is hard to believe August is almost over and there are only a few days left until school starts. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Back to school Safety tips

Let’s start with the drivers:

  • Don’t drive distracted and watch for children walking and biking to school
  • Slow down, obey speed limit in school zones and near school bus stops
  • Look out for children around your vehicle, when you back out of your driveway
  • Be prepared to stop for school buses if the yellow overhead light is flashing and come to a full stop when the red lights are flashing. Cars behind the bus and cars coming from the opposite direction have to stop when the school bus red lights are flashing.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.

 

Sources:

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/back-to-school-tips.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:+No+local+token

http://apps.saferoutesinfo.org/lawenforcement/resources/driving_tips.cfm

https://www.safetyinsurance.com/resource_center/personalauto/schooltips.html

http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/child-safety/schools-open-drive-carefully/#.V7MftFQrK70

Step into Spring Contest

10 Mar

To encourage walking and help parents plan walks, GMTMA launched a Walking School Bus App last fall.   With warmer days approaching we’ve now launched the Step into Spring. Ready, Set, Win!” campaign to get people back into the walking routine.

Step fb

The campaign includes a contest open to parents and their children in Mercer County and select towns in Ocean County. To qualify for the “Step into Spring. Ready, Set, Win!” parents have to  download the GMTMA Walking School Bus App, create an account, join an existing walking school bus group or create a new group, and schedule and participate walks to and from school. The app is easy to use and parents can search by elementary school for existing walking groups, create walking groups and invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert the other parents when students have arrived safely at school.

Every time parents and/or children walk to and from school, they get entered to win prizes. The more you walk the better your chances of winning! First group to organize a walk will automatically win prizes for both parents and children. A random drawing will be conducted from all entries on June 6th.  Prizes include Trenton Thunder tickets and a grand prize of $250 for the school of the winning walking group to be used for walking and biking programs, and prizes for parents and children.

 

 

It’s Walk to School Month!

2 Oct

It’s Walk to School Month! Walk to School Month is a great reason to plan fun and exciting walk to school events in your community. Communities and schools can use Walk to School Month as a step toward changing community culture and creating better options for getting around that are safer, healthier, and also fun and rewarding. Just a few weeks ago the Surgeon General issued a call for action to promote walking and walkable communities, mentioning that walking to school can be a great way for children to get the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day.

Untitled design

Not able to commit to a whole month? How about just a day?  October 7th is International Walk to School Day which means that instead of taking the bus or being driven by Mom or Dad, you will likely see more students walking to and from school.  Walk to School Day is a global event where communities from over 40 countries walk and bike to school.  Check out all the other schools in NJ and around the country that already committed to walk to school on Oct 7th http://walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-walking/2015/NJ

Let your student discover that the journey to school can start with their own two feet!  Here’s why that’s a great idea:

  • Get Exercise: Walking is a great opportunity for children to get the physical activity they need.
  • Get Outdoors: Walking and biking to school is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Help the Environment: Replacing car trips with walking or bicycling can reduce pollution from emissions, making it easier to breathe.
  • Make Your Community a Better Place: Walking and biking to school helps reduce congestion, especially around schools. Your neighborhood becomes safer, quieter, and friendlier and you get to know your neighbors and your neighborhood.
  • It’s FunMost importantly, walking to school is fun!  It can be a great way for parents to spend more time with their children or for students to start their day off on a high note by having fun with their friends before even getting to school.
  • It’s Good for Children: Walking is a great way to get to school alert and ready to learn.
  • It’s Easy to Organize Parent Led Walks: with our new NJ Walking School Bus App http://www.gmtma.org/pg-schools-walking-school-bus.php you can   search by elementary school for existing walking groups, create walking groups and invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert parents when students have arrived safely at school.

Download the App by October 15th and you will be enter in a drawing for a $100 gift card.

Download the app:

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/new-j…

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/de…

GMTMA offers many other Safe Routes to School programs. To see how GMTMA can help you to make the trip to school safer, healthier and more fun in your community, contact us today at 609-452-1491 or email us at tma@gmtma.org. 

Step it Up

11 Sep

The US Surgeon General issued a Call to Action this week, asking Americans to #StepitUp and  start walking more.

This Call to Action is needed and is well timed to coincide with Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Healthy Aging Month …and coincidentally with the launch of GMTMA’s walk to school smarthphone app.

CTA_Infographic_community_walkability_FINAL

According to the Surgeon General, “one out of every two U.S. adults is living with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.” Healthfinder.gov states that one in three children in the U.S is overweight or obese and at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  All of these health issues can be prevented with regular activity, but many adults and many children do not meet the guidelines for daily physical activity.

The most popular form of physical activity is walking and it can be done with a purpose, such as getting to work, to the train station, running errands, or walking to school.

Walking has many benefits for your health and your community.   More walkers improve safety in your neighborhood, slow down traffic, reduce pollution, and encourage social interaction.  Walkable communities are making it easier for older adults to age in place, and for young children to walk to school.

So what can be done to improve walkability in your community?  And how can GMTMA help?

  1. Make it easier for students to walk to from school, and one of the report’s recommendations is to “Implement Safe Routes to School or similar walk-to-school programs.”

GMTMA’s  Safe Routes to School coordinators can implement walk-to-school programs, and we have recently launched a free app to help busy parents set up walking groups to school.  We can also do walkability audits, school travel plans and assist with infrastructure grants. Just call us, we are happy to help.

  1. The report also recommends implementing work programs and policies that promote walking. Employers around Mercer and Ocean counties, your TMA can help with that, just call us. Employers that work with us and implement programs and policies to promote walking, biking, carpooling, and reducing congestion and pollution, get recognition with the New Jersey Smart Workplaces award. Check out our current awardees.

These are just a couple of the recommendations found in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action, which is available here.

Bottom line, we have to start doing something about our health and the health of our communities and walking is a good start. Start walking,  get to know the people in your community, start the conversation, talk about changes that can be made to improve walkability, and who knows, next step could be walking or biking to work.

And as usual if you have any questions or comments, or you want to be a guest blogger, please contact us.

The Wait is Over! New Jersey Walking School Bus App is Here

3 Sep

Just in time for back to school planning and National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we have launched the New Jersey Walking School Bus App!

Throughout the year, we work with schools and with towns on a variety of programs to encourage kids to walk and bike to school where it’s safe to do so. The new app allows parents to easily create and plan walks to and from school. Parents in Mercer County and selected areas in Ocean County can search by elementary school for existing walking groups, create walking groups, invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert parents when students have arrived safely at school!

“Walking School Bus” is a universal term used to describe an organized group of children walking to and from school with one or more adults. It’s like a carpool — without the car!

“Walking to school isn’t just great for the health of our kids and the environment, it’s fun and social too,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of GMTMA.  “The WSB app gives parents a simple way to find other parents that want their children to walk to school and to set up a walking group.”

More information about the app and demo video are available on the Walking School Bus page on our website http://www.gmtma.org.  All the parents that sign up by October 15, 2015 will be entered in a drawing for a $100 gift card!

Additional features: The app calculates the miles walked, calories burned and reduction in CO2 emissions for the individual, group and school.

GMTMA’s New Jersey Walking School Bus app is sponsored by the NJ Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program; a comprehensive program that encourages walking and biking safely to school.

Greater Mercer TMA recognizes local students in Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest

1 May

Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA) sponsored a Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest with the theme “My favorite place to walk/bike is…”. The contest was open to all 3rd through 5th graders in Ocean County, NJ. This year we had more than twenty schools participate in the contest and received 300 bookmark contest entries.

Creativity was abundant making it very difficult to pick the winners. Just look at some of their artwork on our Pinterest page! We would like to thank the schools, teachers, parents, libraries, and superintendents for such a great collaboration. Also, we would like to thank all the students that submitted artwork, the response was amazing.

Winning designs Mercer and Ocean counties

Winning designs Mercer and Ocean counties

The winning bookmarks will be printed and distributed at local libraries and schools. Congratulations to the winners!

MERCER COUNTY

  • 3 rd and 4 th grade category Angelika Gorecka, Slackwood Elementary School, Lawrenceville NJ
  • 5 th grade category Evenly Vasquez, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Trenton NJ

Honorable mention, Shaila Sachder, 5th grade student at Littlebrook School, Princeton, NJ and Samantha Gunton,4th grade student at Lawrenceville Intermediate School, Lawrenceville.

OCEAN COUNTY

  • 3 rd and 4 th grade category Anna Claire Willmot, Ocean Road School, Point Pleasant, NJ
  • 5 thegrade category Isabella Wade, East Dover Elementary, Toms River, NJ

Honorable mention, Julie Lees a 5th grade student at East Dover Elementary, Toms River, NJ and Olivia L. Smith, 3rd Grade student at Lucy N. Holman Elementary, Jackson, NJ.

Honorable mention designs

Honorable mention designs

 

Honorable mention

Honorable mention

“The entries were terrific and really captured the essence of what makes walking and biking so wonderful.” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of GMTMA.   “When we walk and bike we get to use all of our senses, we enjoy our surroundings in a way that just doesn’t happen when we are in a car. The students reflected this in their entries with detailed pictures of such places as their neighborhood, the boardwalk, and parks.”

GMTMA serves as the NJ Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School coordinator for Mercer County and works with schools, communities and PTO’s to encourage more students to walk and bike to school safely and to improve the areas where it is not safe. If you would like more information about the Safe Routes to School Program please visit gmtma.org.