Something serendipitous is happening with School Travel Planning (STP) in Peterborough. Led by GreenUP, an environmental charity with a mission to inspire and empower environmentally healthy and sustainable action, the STP program focuses on community engagement activities that support collaborative action, amplify diverse voices, and celebrate positive change.
“As we began this project, we knew we wanted to choose schools in both the city and county of Peterborough, and we had the opportunity to work with two local school boards,” says Natalie Stephenson, Active School Travel (AST) facilitator at GreenUp. “To decrease travel time, we selected adjacent schools from the two boards with shared or neighbouring catchment areas, and this has allowed us to approach STP from a whole neighbourhood perspective.”
Supplementing Ontario Active School Travel engagement tools with their own, GreenUp quickly learned there was a lot of overlap in the information collected at neighbouring schools, with many shared challenges – and solutions as well! In one case the need for a new pedestrian crossing on a major arterial road emerged as a priority that would benefit three different schools as well as a child care centre. STP is helping bring these stakeholders together to build community-wide support for this measure to improve neighbourhood walkability and accessibility.
Looking ahead Natalie is excited to see how collaborative action in each of the neighbourhoods will bring positive change for those who live, work, learn and play in the area.
GreenUp’s Peterborough City & County School Travel Planning project is one of 28 initiatives receiving support from the Ontario Active School Travel Fund to strengthen walking and cycling to school in 50 communities across Ontario.
GreenUp’s ideas to increase community engagement in active school travel projects:
- Conduct pop-ups at large school events and include lots of fun activities. Mapping activities are great, as they engage all ages and can lead to great conversations with the whole school community!
- Engage nearby child care centres. Reach out to staff and parents about their travel challenges. These are the future These are the future school families, and by engaging in conversations early, it can help the families form active routines early, too.
- Partner with other organizations to plan public events. This spring, GreenUp collaborated with the Peterborough chapter of Jane’s Walks to engage local residents in a conversation about walkability.