Winter Safe Routes to School Ideas

Winter is in full swing, which means getting outside to enjoy the wonderful winter activities in our state. You might be asking yourself, “how do we plan for virtual and/or in-person programs to engage our communities during the winter?” In this article, we provide program ideas to keep kids (and parents) excited to walk and bike over the coming weeks.

Here are some ideas from programs around the country to keep things fresh and current.

Host a series of events during a select week of February or March and dub it “Winter Walk to School Week.” Active opportunities include:

  • Walk and bike-themed valentines for Valentine’s Day (in person or virtually).
  • Encourage neighborhood members to place posters with Polar Bear Fun Facts in windows of their homes for students to find on their school routes.
  • Share cocoa bomb recipes or offer cocoa packets for students to take home to enjoy. If allowable, have a cocoa break for walkers and bikers at school.
  • Provide neighborhood winter Bingo Cards that students can fill out and receive prizes.
  • Host a St. Patrick’s Day Walk and Bike to School Day. Encourage wearing green, and post fun facts about the holiday.
  • Host contests for walking and biking to school, track miles, or the number of times students walk or bike to and from school. You can do this through a simple spreadsheet like Google Sheets, a leaderboard, or tracking apps such as MapMyWalk. Students learning remotely can “walk to school” in the morning (or afternoon) by taking walks with their family around the block.
  • Post weekly videos on social media that offer safety reminders. Our library is a good starting point or have students create their own and then post on social media (with their parents’ permission, of course).
  • Involve middle school and high school students, and area to volunteer to adopt a walkway to shovel to keep sidewalks accessible during the winter. This is a great opportunity to be active while helping people who have a difficult time shoveling in the winter. Consider adopting intersections to shovel out the curb cuts where snowplows may have pushed snow, making it easier for those with mobility issues or using strollers to cross the street.
  • Because it stays dark well into the morning and gets dark in the late afternoon, use reflective items as encouragement tokens or prizes. Helping students stay visible is especially important during the winter.
  • Encourage kids to dress for the weather. Consider providing hats or gloves branded with your Walk and Bike to School logos or SRTS logo as an encouragement item.

What have you been offering for winter events? Have you planned anything different this year due to the pandemic? We invite you to share them on our social media pages which are @SafeRoutesMichigan on Facebook and @SafeRoutesMI on Twitter.

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