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  • Writer's pictureLaura McCamy

Safe Routes to Schools Champion: Linda Lorenz

For 16 of her 24 years as a teacher, Linda Lorenz has taught at Leitch Elementary School in Fremont. Leitch goes from transitional kindergarten through second grade, and Lorenz has spent most of her time leading first-grade classrooms in a school she describes as like Disneyland because “it’s the happiest place.” 

For most of her time at Leitch, she has also been an Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program Champion, one of the volunteers who help to implement Safe Routes activities at their schools.

Lorenz has been her school's first and only Safe Routes Champion, and she’s loved the role. “Our kids are so little, so much of their coming and going to school is out of their control,” she said. ​​“[SR2S Programs are] something easy for everyone to be able to participate in doing.” 

She appreciates the accessibility of biking and walking to even the youngest students and that it doesn’t have to cost money; you don’t need a uniform or special equipment. “The Safe Routes program levels things for people,” Lorenz said. “Everybody can do it because everybody can walk.” 

During the Golden Sneaker Contest, Lorenz encouraged students who live far away to drive partway and walk the last few blocks, enabling them to participate. This month-long competition, which promotes biking and walking, provides an easy opportunity to try out a different mode of transportation. Lorenz's dedication was evident in her initiative to create two additional golden sneaker trophies, ensuring each grade could have one.

“I think it also helps the students and the parents see that you can make it as big or as small as you want,” Lorenz said. Families can start once or twice a month. “Once they do it a little bit, they see that they can do it more on their own,” she said. “It’s free, it’s easy, it's changing their mindset.”

Lorenz also likes the community created by SR2S, where parents connect with each other and form carpools. She has appreciated the connections she’s made as a Champion and working with TransForm staff. 

She retires at the end of this school year and takes her SR2S experience with her. “It’s taught me to use a different lens when I’m looking at transportation,” she said. “I feel like the Safe Routes program has made me think more about the options that I have for traveling to do things.” She now asks herself if she can bike to school, shopping, or the park instead of driving.

Lorenz’s wish for Safe Routes as she leaves: “I hope it continues to grow.” 


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