Ad Contest Pitches Walking to School

Winners Get Grants And Air Time

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the launch of the second annual “We’re Walking Here” competition, inviting New York City schools to script a public service announcement (PSA) that promotes walking as a safe, healthy and practical way to get around that is good for the community and the environment.

This year’s theme is “Let Your Feet Meet the Street!,” which lets students review grade-specific curricula and also tally how many blocks their class collectively walks during a twoweek period. Students then create their own PSA to educate the public about the importance of walking and safety.

To participate, schools register online at www.nyc.gov/dot to download contest guidelines and lesson plans that highlight the benefits of walking. The competition’s kickoff was timed to coincide with International Walk to School Day, a worldwide celebration and global public awareness campaign for creating safer streets for students everywhere, last Wednesday, Oct. 3.

“Teaching active ways to get around goes beyond the classroom as students recognize how easily walking can become part of their daily routine,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “As we design safer streets for everyone, students can bring these healthy lessons for life home to their families.”

NewYork is a city of walkers, according to the DOT, with one-third of trips in the city made on foot, onethird by transit and the remaining third by car. The contest provides a toolkit for students to learn about and recognize the importance of active transportation.

For the contest, walking tallies and PSA entries must be received by midnight, Friday, Nov. 16. The school with the overall best PSAsubmission and walking numbers demonstrating their effort wins a $1,000 grant from the Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting safe streets for all New Yorkers. The school with the best entry in each borough will receive a grant of $250.

Last year, P.S. 94 in Douglaston was awarded the grand prize and P.S. 257 in Brooklyn received an honorable mention and a $250 grant. Astoria’s P.S. 17, Corona’s P.S. 14 and Harry S. Truman high school in the Bronx also received $250 for students’ submissions. The winning PSA from this year’s contest will be recorded and may be used for radio broadcast and other outlets.

Each year, FedEx volunteers visit DOT’s Safety City locations to walk with students from their school to the facility and teach them about walking safely on streets. The students also participate in various activities to understand a driver’s perspective, including sitting in different size trucks and freight vehicles and techniques to be safe and be seen. On Oct. 3, FedEx conducted workshops in the Manhattan Access Safety City location with St. Rose of Lima School, in Brooklyn with P.S. 59 and in the Bronx with P.S. 304.

Last year was the safest year on record since New York City began collecting data on traffic fatalities in 1910, the DOT noted, crediting the agency’s work to combine education and engineering to achieve its goal of reducing the number of fatalities by 50 percent by 2030.

As part of the DOT’s safety education and outreach, the agency works with schools in each borough, including offering innovative trafficsafety sign design residency and safety mural programs with Groundswell. It also conducts safety education workshops and other activities regularly in classrooms citywide as well as at all Safety City locations throughout the year.

In the U.S., Walk to School Day celebrations are nationally coordinated and supported by the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools. Established in May 2006, the National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program, which assists communities in enabling and encouraging children of all abilities to safely walk and bicycle to school.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Learn more at saferoutesinfo.org.

For more information about “We’re Walking Here” and DOT’s other safety initiatives, visit www.nyc.gov/dot.