MOLINE, Illinois (KWQC) – Wednesday, October, 5, 2016 was National Walk to School Day. At least three schools in Moline participated by encouraging their kids to walk on that day.
One of those schools was Lincoln-Irving Elementary. In the last year the elementary school has received help improving routes to their school from one local organization, Bi-State Regional Commission.
Bi-State’s work began long before the 2016 National Walk to School Day. Since 2014, the organization has been working to create healthy and safe routes for kids to get to school.
Two years ago the 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 schools that willingly wanted to participate and, in some cases, had local Alderman reach out to Bi-State.
Over the last several years, Bi-State has worked with schools in both Iowa and Illinois, including most recently Madison Elementary in Davenport, Iowa and Lincoln-Irving in Moline, Illinois.
“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, they have their teachers, their principal, and their parents.”
Beswick said they work to concentrate these efforts and improve routes kids can take to school.
The regional commission accomplishes their goal by developing plans for the area around the participating the schools. These “plans” include ideas and improvements that can be used now or in the future. They also include data Bi-State gathered 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, after a preliminary assessment, 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 avenues 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 October. 7, 2016, the start of the Federal fiscal year. Over the last few months, Bi-State has been looking for the new schools to assess.
Bi-State has confirmed they will be working with Longfellow Elementary in Rock Island, Illinois. The organization said, as of Oct. 5, they were talking with two other schools.
Anyone who is interested in getting Bi-State involved with their child’s school can contact Taylor Beswick through Bi-States website.