Florida has had great success with Safe Routes to School under SAFETEA-LU, with more than 235 applications ($68.8 million) being funded. The average Safe Routes to School project funded was $292,766. There has been a call for infrastructure applications each fall through spring. Spring 2012 ended the 6th call for projects. These projects will be in the 2017 work program. The average return on these projects was an increase of 22 percent of children walking to and from school. The program works! However, it only works because of the dedicated and out of the box thinking district coordinators. Read more to see a highlight of thinking out of the box by Stanley Rudd, FDOT District 3 SRTS Coordinator.
Stanley came up with the perfect idea of something that can be used as an incentive or reward and still be useful after the first day it is handed out, one subject notebooks. His reasoning is pretty sound: Children keep what’s useful to them and most of the time they don’t keep pamphlets or brochures. At best they may give them to their parents. What we need to do is put something in a child’s hands that will stay there. In his own words:
How do we make a pamphlet or brochure useful to a child and “cool” enough to keep? By using some basic marketing we can put those safety messages in our children’s hands and keep them there. Notebooks with safety “graffiti” on the front cover! The safety messages are in the form of wall art or graffiti so that they are child friendly and have a “cool” appearance. The children receive the books by participating in the annual “Walk to School” day. Once in the hands of the child, every time the book is used that safety message will be seen, in some cases, several times a day, over a several month period of time. Repeatedly expose a child to those safety messages and they will become a part of the normal thought process of the child and when the opportunity arises they will apply that principle, thereby saving lives.
This is one of the many success stories that Florida has. As mentioned earlier, it is because of the dedicated district coordinators that they have been so successful. With that being said, they look forward to starting their new program and continuing to provide safe route to schools all over Florida.
For more information on the Florida Safe Routes to School program, please contact Sarita Taylor, SRTS coordinator, at 850-245-1529 or visit the program website. For more information on the Florida Safe Routes to School state network project, contact Carol Pulley, state advocacy organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org.