Youth Education Programs
Ecology Action provides bicycle and pedestrian safety education programs to schools throughout Santa Cruz County and parts of Monterey County. Our programs include the comprehensive Bike Smart and Walk Smart programs. Ecology Action’s dynamic school programs, including both our education and encouragement programs, date back to over 10 years and are a part of an international Safe Routes to School movement.
The term “Safe Routes to School” was first used in Denmark in the late 1970s as part of a successful initiative to reduce the number of children killed while walking and bicycling to school. Safe Routes to School spread internationally, with programs springing up throughout Europe and in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. The Safe Routes to School movement is premised on a holistic approach to increasing the number of children walking and bicycling through the Six E’s: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement, Evaluation and Equity. For more information on the Safe Routes to School movement and the 5 E’s, visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
Ecology Action is committed to providing Safe Routes to School programming in the Monterey Bay region in order to:
- Combat childhood obesity and improve learning: Walking or riding 1 mile can burn 40 calories. Overweight and obesity rates have skyrocketed in recent decades in the U.S. In Santa Cruz County, 32% of our 9-13 year olds are considered overweight or obese. Studies also show that physically active students are better prepared for learning.
- Reduce traffic at school sites: 20-30% of morning traffic can be attributed to parents dropping students at school sites.
- Save Money: Commute Solutions calculates that you spend $.86 for every mile you drive after accounting for fuel, maintenance and other costs associate with maintaining a car.
- Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: According to the County Commission on the Environment, transportation accounts for 45% of Santa Cruz County’s greenhouse gas emissions. Every mile you drive releases about 1 pound of carbon dioxide into the air.
Ecology Action’s bike safety education program, Bike Smart, includes elementary and secondary bicycle street skills classroom presentations, interactive bicycle skills obstacle courses (a.k.a. rodeos), community rides (on-road training) and bicycle safety education booths at events. We tailor our activities to meet the needs of each organization to most effectively deliver quality bicycling instruction. For more information on the Bike Smart program, contact Kira Ticus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's what our program participants have to say about Bike Smart:
"Students learned bike rules they weren't aware of. This will lead to their improved safety as they ride to school or other destinations. I imagine this experience might inspire more students to ride their bikes to school." 5th grade teacher, Westlake Elementary School
"The Bike Smart training was wonderfully done. Interactive and engaging. The assembly and bike rodeos were the highlights of the students week!" Principal, Bradley Elementary School
"Now my parents will finally let me bike to school because I've received Bike Smart training!" 5th grader, Westlake Elementary School
"I didn't know how to ride a bike but now I can thanks to Bike Smart!" 5th grader, Vine Hill Elementary School
Ecology Action's pedestrian safety education program, Walk Smart, includes youth pedestrian safety training for Santa Cruz and Monterey County youth in grades 1st-3rd with a focus on 2nd grade. The program includes classroom presentations and on-foot safety training. The presentation introduces the street crossing method "Stop, Look, and Listen" through video, demonstration, and discussion. Students then practice this method through a combination of role playing, dance, and Simon Says for a fun, educational and interactive classroom experience! Presentations are then paired with on-foot safety training where students embark on a walk around the block nearby their school. During this walk, students are engaged in actively observing their surroundings and safe walking practices around common walking hazards like driveways, parked cars, mid-block crossings, and traffic signs/signals. We tailor our activities to meet the needs of each school to most effectively deliver quality instruction. For more information on the Walk Smart program contact Elise Ehrheart at elise(at)ecoact.org.