FedEx and Safe Kids – Walk This Way – International Walk to School Day
On October 5, millions of children around the world participated in International Walk to School Day (IWTSD), an annual event that raises awareness among local communities of the benefits of healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods for school children. FedEx, a longtime supporter of Safe Kids, has teamed up with the non-profit organization to create the “Walk This Way” program and participate in IWTSD events around the world.
Child pedestrian safety is a critical global issue and one that is especially close to the hearts of FedEx team members. To drive safety awareness, Safe Kids and FedEx capitalized on its global network of coalitions and team members to support IWTSD, all of which played a role in making the cause a true worldwide effort.
From the busy streets of New York City to the villages of Southeast Asia, children, parents and volunteers from Safe Kids and FedEx shared a common experience this week – hosting creative, engaging activities to excite kids and teach them about the importance of pedestrian safety.
The “Walking School Buses” of the Philippines
Safe Kids Philippines is piloting a “Walking School Bus” concept, which simulates a school bus of children on-foot. The “driver,” a parent, wears a reflective safety vest and makes stops throughout the neighborhood to pick up children along the route.
“In the Philippines, it’s common for children to walk to school,” said Marte Perez, executive director of Safe Kids Philippines. “The program, which is rolling out with the Parañaque coalition, will ensure all children are supervised as they safely walk to school.”
By providing a collective pool of parents to share in the responsibility, the activity is fostering camaraderie among neighborhood families while also alleviating the burden of each individual parent having to walk their child to and from school daily.
For International Walk to School Day, FedEx volunteers served as “drivers” and classroom teachers, educating the new driver-parents on the best practices for maneuvering the Walking School Bus.
For the Olongapo coalition, where FedEx team members have participated in IWTSD year after year, nearly 25 volunteers came together to support a unique activity that may be the first for child pedestrian safety education: an interpretive dance. Students from neighborhood schools are holding a contest to showcase pedestrian safety tips and best practices through their very own choreography.
Kids Take a Walk in the “Streetscapes” of the Big Apple
Closer to home, the Safe Kids New York City coalition celebrated IWTSD by creating an interactive, real-world experience that literally put kids in the driver’s seat of a FedEx truck.
Nearly 120 third graders from Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx each met up with a team of FedEx volunteers, who walked with the classes to “Safety City” – an authentic NYC streetscape, created just for the kids by the New York City Department of Transportation.
“It’s really a great experience for both the kids and the volunteers,” said Majorie Marciano, coordinator, Safe Kids New York City. “The kids get to hear about the importance of pedestrian safety and being seen by the drivers.”
As a lesson in driver visibility, FedEx brought a delivery truck for students to board and “get behind the wheel,” allowing them to sit in the driver’s seat and observe the limited visibility of their peers staged in front of the truck.
The program is providing real tangible outcomes, according to Marciano. Especially in densely populated areas like New York City, there is a greater risk for child pedestrians. But, over the last year, youth pedestrian injuries have actually decreased in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan, where one of the Safety Cities is hosted.
The Safe Kids partnership and involvement in International Walk to School Day is especially fulfilling for FedEx team members as well.
“I’ve been involved with International Walk to School Day for over 10 years now,” said Johnny Lugo, senior safety specialist at FedEx Express. “I get personal gratification talking to the kids and hoping I can save some of them from serious injury.”
“We always have a list of people eager to participate, who enjoy the program and want to give back to the community in their own way,” said Effie Misoulis, administrative manager and volunteer coordinator for the FedEx Big Apple District.
How did you celebrate International Walk to School Day in your own area?