Colorado’s Heatherwood Elementary and Wisconsin’s Omro Middle School earn 2011 Safe Routes to School Award

To ensure that America’s kids travel to and from school safely, DOT’s Federal Highway Administration supports the National Center for Safe Routes to School. This terrific program works to create safe settings and fun programs that encourage children to walk or bicycle to school.

Each year, the National Center for Safe Routes to School usually recognizes one Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program in the country for outstanding achievement in promoting safe walking and bicycling to school.  But this year – a first in the history of the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award – two schools will receive this national honor: Heatherwood Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado, and Omro Middle School in Omro, Wisconsin.

As Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center, said, “Both of this year’s award recipients are being recognized for developing and implementing successful programs unique to their individual school’s needs.”

A rural highway near the school entrance prevented many students from walking or biking to Heatherwood Elementary School.  But thanks to funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation to build a crosswalk across the highway, paired with tremendous support for the program from parents and faculty, the school’s SRTS efforts and activities have resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of students who regularly walk or bicycle to school.  In just three years, Heatherwood Elementary’s walkers and bicyclists jumped from 12 percent to more than 43 percent of the school.