MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – Wednesday, Oct. 5 was National Walk to School Day. At least three schools in Moline participated by encouraging their kids to use their feet as a form of transportation.
One of those schools was Lincoln-Irving Elementary in Moline, Illinois. In the last year the elementary school has received help improving routes to their school from Bi-State Regional Commission.
The organization’s work began long before the 2016 National Walk to School Day. For two years, Bi-State has been working to create healthy and safe routes for kids to get to school.
In 2014, Bi-State received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Through this grant and a partnership with Quad City Health Initiative, the regional commission began working with three schools in the Quad Cities metro area per year. The schools that were chosen were willing to partner with Bi-State. In some cases, the commission says, local alderman even reached out to Bi-State on behalf of specific schools.
“First this is voluntary, these schools aren’t signing contracts or anything like that,” said Planner for Bi-State, Taylor Beswick. “We go to schools that are enthusiastic to get all their efforts that they are having [together]. They have their teachers, their principal and their parents.”
Beswick said they work to concentrate these efforts and improve possible routes for kids.
Over the last several years, Bi-State has worked with schools in both Iowa and Illinois. The organization most recently partnered with Madison Elementary in Davenport, Iowa and, as previously mentioned, Lincoln-Irving.
The regional commission’s process focuses around the development of a “plan” for the area around the participating the school. This plan includes ideas and improvements that can be used now, or in the future. They also contain data Bi-State gathers through assessments, surveys and work within the community.
“They really do it all,” said Lincoln-Irving Principal, Blanca Leal. The principal also said working with Bi-State was easy. Leal described her role as the “vehicle of communication” between Bi-State and the students.
For Lincoln-Irving specifically, Bi-State began working to improve sidewalks and walking corridors. The regional commission also worked with a community development group, Global Communities, to encourage and educate families on combining transportation methods. For example, using the bus on 4th and 5th Avenue and then walking the rest of the way to Lincoln-Irving.
Bi-State completed the plan for Lincoln-Irving Elementary in September of 2016. A new year begins for the regional commission on Oct. 7, the start of the Federal fiscal year. Over the last few months, Bi-State has been looking for new schools to partner with.
Bi-State has confirmed they will soon be working with Longfellow Elementary in Rock Island, Illinois. The organization said, as of Oct. 5, they were also talking with two other schools.
Any school interested in partnering with Bi-State can contact Taylor Beswick through Bi-States website.