Invention of Scooter Days

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When the DC Iotas began their program to support “active transportation initiatives”, the term “Scooter Days” was not a part of our program.  However, we learned that Scooter Days can provide safe, healthy and sustainable outcomes in under-served communities.  We’ve created access to recyclable resources that significantly decreased the amount of time, money and/or ability necessary to implement Scooter Days as a bridge between walking and biking, along with other active transportation initiatives.

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Ishmael Rodrigo, the Physical Education Coordinator at Ketcham Elementary School in Washington, DC, faces an uphill battle every day in his constant push to improve the health and wellness of his students.  With limited funds, reduced physical education class time allotments and other external environmental factors, Mr. Rodrigo was very excited about gaining the support of the DC Iotas and their Walking Role Models program.

After presenting the Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) to Mr. Rodgigo and the new Principle, Ms. Maisha Riddlesprigger, they signed up right away and we began coordinating our schedules to facilitate multiple Bicycle Safety and Education workshops with SRTS via the Washington Area Biking Association (WABA).

Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented Walking Role Models from partnering with SRTS and WABA.  Faced with this new challenge, Mr. Rodrigo mentioned that significantly more of his elementary school students used scooters. He believed his students had not reached the age were biking, as a means of commuting to and from school, was appropriate.  Utilizing more affordable scooters, parents could walk with their child to school and carry the collapsible scooter back home with them. 

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We all agreed that scooters were a safer, more sustainable alternative to biking in elementary schools. Mr.  Rodrigo added that he had developed a habit of letting the most well behaved students borrow sports equipment over the weekends.  He would let their parent check-out basketballs, footballs, hula-hoops, jump ropes and other things that other incentives promoting healthy behavior.  He immediately thought that scooters and helmets would be an excellent addition to this practice.  The best students would serve as role models to their class mates.  It all came together on June 5th and 6th of 2014, when we exposed just over 100 3rd and 4th graders to safe and active methods of transportation to promote and encourage safe, physical activity.  We began the Scooter Workshops by reviewing safety protocols when walking, biking and riding a scooter.  These safety protocols included demonstrating and practicing the proper use of a helmet when riding a bicycle or a scooter, pedestrian safety tips, multiple breaking/stopping techniques and an obstacle/training course for the students to practice their newly acquired knowledge of safe and active transportation initiatives.

While most of the students had ridden a scooter before, only 2 of the students had ever worn a helmet while riding a scooter, before participating in our workshop.  Another significant learning experience came when we learned that some of the older students already knew how to ride a bicycle but none of them had ever learned the corresponding turn signals for stopping or turning left/right at an intersection while on a bicycle.

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A couple of weeks later, we sponsored Dance/Fitness workshops at Ketcham’s end of the year Annual Field Day.  The entire school participated in activities all day long, like tug-a-war, volleyball and sack races in addition to our Dance/Fitness workshops.  This didn’t take away from the fact that students were notably anxious to get back on the scooters. 

Throughout the day, we were constantly asked by the students who participated weeks earlier in our Scooter workshops, “Aren’t you guys the ones with the scooters?”, “Did you bring the scooters again?” and “When can we have another ‘Scooter Day’?”.  One student even said that “Scooter Day” was the most fun she had during P.E. Class all year.  We let the students know that we would be back and they could only participate if they were on good behavior leading up to “Scooter Days”.

Following its birth at Ketcham, over 400 Students have participated in Scooter Days at their elementary school or Recreation Center in DC’s most under-served communities.   The DC Iotas and everyone who was involved are excited about the invention and continued growth of Scooter Days.

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