Kate the Intern Reflects on Working With PedNet Coalition

Kate is a senior nursing student at University of Missouri and will be graduating in May. She hopes to stay here in Columbia, and go back to school to get her Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner degree to someday work in dermatology.

This is my last blog post as a nursing student working with PedNet for my Community Health Clinical. In May I will be graduating and have accepted a job at Boone Hospital, making Columbia a more permanent home. Working with PedNet, Kaity and I have spent a lot of time working with the wonderful staff and collaborating to promote safe and fun active transportation. I have learned a lot about pedestrian and pedaling communities and how to improve the one we live in. Columbia is growing to become an even more bike and pedestrian friendly and I am proud to have the opportunity to take advantage of the extensive trails. Everyone benefits when active transportation, whether it is in the form of walking, wheeling, or biking, is developed and thriving. I believe we have room for improvement here in Columbia, but we have made great strides. Over the course of interning with PedNet, Kaity and I have:

  • Seen CoMO Connect pass at a City Council meeting,
  • Participated in Bike/Ped Day at the Capitol and watched many bike enthusiasts stand up for their community to influence policy decisions
  • Participated in BikePro, a bicycle education course for children. (Which proved more difficult than we had expected, but we learned some valuable lessons in riding safely on the road.)
  • Completed our Capstone on the Walking School Bus

For our capstone project, Kaity and I worked with PedNet and Fairview Elementary School to distribute a survey to school parents and assess the need and interest for re-instating the Walking School Bus program. Recently cancelled due to lack of funding, the Walking School Bus is an extremely beneficial program for the children and the adults. Children benefit from the increased physical activity, making it easier for them to get the 30-60 min recommended daily, as well as increased focus in school, the opportunity to meet other classmates and socialize, and to learn the importance of walking for transportation as part of a healthy lifestyle. Adults also benefit because the program provides a reliable and safe method of transportation for their children and reduced congestion around the school. For these reasons, and many more, we believe the Walking School Bus was an essential part of the Columbia and the school district and can be reinstated successfully with support and funding.

This survey has provided us with a very basic assessment and given more insight into how the program can be reinstated.  We have made suggestions as far as where to look for funding and make this program sustainable based on the Safe Routes to School model of funding. To keep up to date on the Walking School Bus and find out how you can help the support the re-instatement of this program, provide your information and comments on PedNet’s website.

I am proud to be a member of this community and I will continue to support the importance of active transportation and especially the efforts of the Walking School Bus as I become a more permanent resident here in May.