Walk+Bike Challenge Champion: Holly McRae

Originally posted on BTA website by Sarah Newsum 

You can be a Walk+Bike Challenge champion like Holly! There are many different ways to get involved and support the Walk+Bike Challenge. You can become a Challenge Coordinator for your kids, class, or entire school. Download the Coordinator Packet for handy tracking tips and scorecards that make it easy for you to track large groups or individuals. This month-long encouragement program is aimed at getting more kids walking and biking to school.

cyclofemme 084 (1)Holly McRae’s daughter is in the fourth grade at the Village School, a public charter school in the 4J school district. Holly works in the Village School Kitchen and also serves on the school’s Green Team, whose focus is on supporting the school’s sustainability goals and planning events to take place during Earth Week. Choosing a school that was walking/biking distance from their home was very important to Holly and her husband.

Holly has spent the last few years volunteering to promote active transportation at the Village School through various avenues. Holly draws excitement for kids biking to school by hosting small fun events. For the last two years, she has been offering what she calls “Bling your Bike” parties, where students can bring their bikes to decorate as they like. “I have found that this makes many kids super excited to ride their bikes throughout the school year (not just during the beautiful fall or spring days),” Holly says. walk & bike VS 006 (1)

In addition to the different events she hosts, she works hard to secure funding for various improvements and incentives. She was able to secure a blender bike to use as a creative way to raise awareness about active transportation and as an extra incentive for classes with the highest percentage of students walking and biking during the Walk+Bike Challenge. In order to secure the resources, she submitted a funding proposal to their parent council to partially pay for the blender bike and was able to pay for the remaining balance of the bike with donations from parents.

Holly also submits funding proposals to a local organization, Point2Point Solutions, which provides mini-grants to schools that participate in Walk+Bike to School Day in October. She uses the funds to purchase prizes to be used in a drawing for participating students. They have given away lights, helmets, reflectors, umbrellas, buttons, etc. Holly was also able to get more bike racks for their school by working with parent council to secure funds to purchase two new bike racks. With the help of parents, they built covered bike parking and installed the new racks. Holly, of course, was ecstatic about this new addition, “On a nice day, our racks still overflow!”

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Holly is very involved in her school and the Walk+Bike Challenge. The Village School is special in that their focus is on the “whole child.” They value nutrition, exercise, and value time spent outdoors. However, because they are a charter school, students live across the city, not just in nearby neighborhoods. This might seem like a challenge to encourage active transportation when many students live further way, but despite that, Holly rejoices, “many [students] still make an effort to walk/bike to school!”

You can become the Walk+Bike Challenge Coordinator for your school and participate at a level that works for you! Register your school, order your free prizes to use as incentives, and download your Coordinator Packet for great tips and resources. There are tons of ways to coordinate for the Challenge. You can work with teachers to track trips using our scorecards and collect them every week, or perhaps standing in front of the school and tallying students arriving to school by walking or biking works better for you. Choose a method with which you’re comfortable and works with your schedule and make a difference by encouraging children to use active transportation and form healthy habits!

PS- It’s also worth noting that Holly serves on the Lane Area Commission on Transportation (Lane ACT), served on Eugene’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, is an active participant in Kidical Mass, and just a total bike mama rockstar!!

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