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Mankato includes safety, wellness and exercise into their students' day

About 320 students for the newly built school, Rosa Parks Elementary, in Mankato, Minnesota, were excited to see their new school, classrooms and meet their teachers, but they were still not as excited as one father. He was thrilled to see the principal starting a new program called the Walking School Bus—made up of a group of children walking to and from school with one or more adults. For a single father that goes to work in the early hours, it ensured that his six year old daughter would be able to get to and from school safely—while being active. Currently 29 percent of the students are using the Walking School Bus and the idea has spread to Roosevelt Elementary School, where they started their own program this spring.

The City of Mankato, in conjunction with the school district, received a SHIP grant for developing safe walking routes to Rosa Parks Elementary by the development of the Walking School Bus program. The city installed crosswalks, stop signs, Walking School Bus signs, and pedestrian crossing signals. The principal worked with the PTO to select routes, organize volunteers, and improve a resource manual. The adults had training and received reflective vests and hand held radios.

Thanks to this effort, 214 students are currently walking and biking to and from school at Rosa Parks and Roosevelt elementary school and more schools are paying attention.