Kids go for the gold in Alameda County

Rachel Davidman Headshot

"No mom, we can't get in the car, we have to win the Golden Sneaker Contest!"  

Car-riding protests are common this time of year, as students across Alameda County put their best foot forward to help their classes win the annual Golden Sneaker Contest.

From March 2 - 13, thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students across Alameda County tracked their daily travel to and from school as part of contest, led by the county’s Safe Routes to Schools Program.

At the 110 participating schools, students, parents, teachers and administrators alike showed their excitement and enthusiasm to make an effort to walk, bike, carpool or take public transit to school.

All of these alternatives to solo driving earned points, which students tallied on their classroom’s mode charts. While there is one “winning” classroom at each school, the real winners are the families that chose to leave their cars behind (or carpool) during the contest, and their communities that they helped encourage to walk or roll instead of drive.

"My kids were very committed to get points every day,” reported Pato Draves, parent of a second grader at Malcolm X Elementary in Berkeley  “There were some days that we had to drive, so we figured out a compromise for those days - we drove part way and walked the rest. We even connected with another family and walked together some mornings." 

In a class discussion about the contest at Redwood Heights Elementary in Oakland, a first grader shared, "We shouldn't be too mad if we don't win, because we will have worked really hard." And then her teacher, Mrs. Rogers, added, "Yes, and remember the whole planet wins when we work together to reduce pollution."

Winning classes will be awarded Golden Sneaker trophies, as well as visits from Goldie the Golden Sneaker Superhero, bike blender smoothie parties, or other special prizes. The school with the highest level of participation and greatest increase in mode shift since Fall 2014 will be recognized next week.

The Golden Sneaker Contest helps kids, inspired by a little bit of gold and friendly competition, continue walking, rolling, and carpooling to school throughout the rest of the year and beyond.  The Safe Routes to Schools team will follow up with more encouragement and events – like Bike Month in May – to keep the Golden Sneaker spirit alive all year long.

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.