In August, Valley Forge Middle School was one of 37 businesses recognized in our latest round of Bicycle Friendly Business awards. One of the deciding factors in receiving their award was their participation in the My School In Motion program, which is developed and administered through Bicycle Friendly Business GVF. Read more from GVF about how their MSIM program is elevating bike encouragement at Valley Forge below.
DID YOU KNOW?
The proportion of students in grades K-8 who walk or bike to school fell from 47.7% in 1969 to 12.7% in 2009.
Less than 3 in 10 middle and high school students get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
The CDC reports that there is evidence that increased physical activity during the school day impacts cognitive skills and attitudes—important components of academic performance.
It is estimated vehicle traffic generated by school drop-offs accounts for 10%-20% of congestion volume in a given locale, which produces more pollution and ultimately negatively affects children’s health
*From the Community Preventative Services Task Force, October 2018
In 2018, Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business GVF was awarded a PennDOT Transportation Alternatives Set Aside Grant to create the My School in Motion program to combat the above statistics and to educate the next generation on alternatives to driving alone. With over 30+ years of experience, GVF is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to inspire mobility choices for all by promoting alternatives like biking, walking, public transit, carpooling, and vanpooling.
GVF partnered with Tredyffrin Easttown School District to bring the My School in Motion program to its first school, recently awarded Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Business Valley Forge Middle School. The program educates and promotes the benefits of active transportation, addresses traffic congestion, and identifies barriers that prevent biking and walking safely within the community.
Through the program, GVF helps to form partnerships between school districts, townships, and counties to prioritize needed infrastructure improvements. Schools, like Valley Forge Middle School, are excited about the opportunities participating in this program will bring. “We are looking forward to further educating our students on the benefits of safe walking and biking, and providing opportunities for students to make meaningful differences in their community through civic engagement,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Hickey Rothera, Assistant Principal of Valley Forge Middle School.
My School In Motion has also helped to provide a space for many students who were already looking to advocate for safer active transportation modes. “There is no space for biking and walking. This was going around in my mind from two years ago when I moved into Lexton Woods and found it's not safe for biking and walking as there is heavy traffic,” said a Valley Forge Middle School student. “I talked to my mom and was thinking of writing a letter to the township, but I'm glad that I'm in the right club now where I can raise my points and solve the issue.”
COMPONENTS OF THE MY SCHOOL IN MOTION PROGRAM INCLUDE
Parental/Guardian survey to gauge their current travel to/from school and their willingness to allow their child to walk/bike to school
National recognition for the school through the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly America Program
On-site school events to kick off the program, as well as recognizing certain days like National Bike/Walk to School day
Formation of My School in Motion Club, with club member participation in walking and biking audits
Education and Marketing/Communications
WALK OR BIKE TO SCHOOL DAY
In the Fall of 2019, GVF organized a My School in Motion kick-off event at Valley Forge Middle School in conjunction with International Bike or Walk to School Day. The event was a huge success, with over 350 students participating in biking or walking to school -- close to double the number who normally walk or bike to school.
The event was held in the morning before classes started and included relevant speakers and trivia questions for students about walking and biking to school. The first 100 students who arrived at school by either walking or biking received a gift bag with My School in Motion promotional items such as water bottles and reflectors. A poster challenge was also organized where students were encouraged to create posters highlighting biking and walking safety. Students were also encouraged to test their route to school by walking or biking one day during the month.
In Spring 2020, as the school moved to virtual learning and in-person events were canceled due to COVID-19, GVF created an educational video that was shared with students to recognize International Bike or Walk to School Day. The video included information on campus bike and walk facilities, what a bike and walk pool is, safety tips, and how to join the My School in Motion Club.
MY SCHOOL IN MOTION CLUB
The program was also extended into a school club which provided an opportunity to get students involved in physical activity, educate them on transportation options, and help them develop the confidence to vocalize their experiences about their community's connectivity.
One component of the My School in Motion Club is helping their school apply for the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business award. The goal is to allow the club to be responsible for completing and maintaining the designation on behalf of the school. This will make them aware of the school's facilities and help them identify areas in which the school can improve biking and walking.