|We even walk in the rain!|
In 2004, the Van Derveer School launched a walking school bus program through a partnership with RideWise TMA of Somerset County. The five safest routes to Van Derveer School were delineated for the students and families to use following an analysis of the Borough crosswalks, posts of crossing guards, and quality of sidewalks. This has been a success due in large part to the strong partnerships between Van Derveer School and the Somerville community, especially the Somerville Police Department!
The walking school bus has been in full swing ever since the 2004 launch. Walking Wednesday and Foot-It Friday (added two years into the walking program) continue to be high points of the week for the students. The students are provided with a ticket for walking and entered into a raffle to win a prize while the ticket tally provides data to the number of walkers and analysis of the program. Over the years, many organizations have joined in the walk including McGruff (Somerset County Crime Stoppers), the Somerville Fire Department whose trucks led the bus, Somerset Patriots Sparkee and many more! Ms. Frevert, second grade teacher, walks every Wednesday with the students!
In addition to arriving at school invigorated by their walk, the students have learned about making healthy decisions, pedestrian safety, and ‘stranger danger’. The students’ learning also extends into the neighborhoods as they are reminded to be respectful citizens. In 2006, all Van Derveer students and staff received pedometers, through a grant from United Way, to raise the awareness of how many steps are taken each day.
The Somerville Borough received a 2007 Safe Routes to School grant in the amount of $250,000. Data from the Van Derveer School walking program was utilized in the successful grant application.
The Van Derveer School walking program has been highlighted over the years. Al Roker Productions on The Food Network showcased our commitment to healthy decision making in the Spring of 2006. Newsweek magazine wrote an article in September 2007 outlining the benefits of our program. Raheema Ellis, NBC Nightly News correspondent, joined the walking school bus and highlighted our program on NBC Nightly News on October 5, 2008.
All students, families and friends are invited to walk to school each and every day! On Wednesdays, a group leaves from the Cornell Skate Park at 8:00am; join in on the fun when the group passes your neighborhood. Copies of the safe routes from your neighborhood can be found in the Van Derveer Main Office. The walking school bus is just one example of success in Van Derveer School community.