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  • Writer's pictureMichele Walker

Safe Routes Youth Task Force Leads the Way

We’re calling it. The 2022-23 school year was a smashing success for the Safe Routes to School Youth Task Force. More than fifty students at 19 high schools (three times as many as last year!) throughout Alameda County got their classmates walking and rolling to school and beyond. From Reboot Your Commute and International Walk and Roll to School Day to volunteering with elementary school students and organizing monthly walk and rolls, Youth Task Force students did amazing work this year and we can’t thank them enough.

While Safe Routes to School events and programs for younger students are hosted by teachers and adult volunteers from the community, Youth Task Force student volunteers design, plan, and host events at their own high school campuses. These events encourage students to use active and shared transportation and to start conversations around the impact of individual travel choices on our health, safety, community, and environment. Not only is it fun, it’s a great way for young people to build their confidence through gaining skills in organization, planning, problem solving, and community outreach. TransForm’s Safe Routes to Schools team meets with the entire Youth Task Force once per quarter, and once a month with each individual student team to make sure students have the resources and support they need to make their events a success.

At Vineyard High School in Livermore, graduating senior Kalel Disu had an amazing experience this year with Safe Routes to Schools. He had the opportunity to host his own events for his peers and also volunteered at an elementary school event, dressing up as Goldie, the Golden Sneaker mascot, to read stories about transportation to younger students. Kalel said yes to taking a more active role in the community, and became an advocate, encouraging others to participate in the Safe Routes program. He also learned how to speak to large groups. While it was nerve-racking to dress as Goldie and present to hundreds of students, Kalel was excited to have this opportunity to be out in the community and share his passion for active and shared transportation.

At Alameda Community Learning Center, student Natalie Sun learned a lot from her experience promoting Safe Routes events and shared how she enjoyed getting to “try this [role] on and explore what a future in marketing or advertising might look like,” while another student, Maya Akin, learned about planning large events and communicating with others.

The Reboot Your Commute event at Castro Valley High School taught Amelia Johnson to “follow your first instinct on how to handle a difficult situation!” Quick problem solving on her part kept the event running smoothly after an unexpected hiccup. Naomi Melek learned to use spreadsheets to organize herself and keep track of what every team member was doing, and Brianna Garcia learned to present information in new ways to engage fellow students with a variety of interests.

Over the last decade the Youth Task Force’s impact and reach have grown exponentially. We’re grateful to all the student volunteers for leading the way and spreading the word about the benefits of active and shared transportation. Twenty-six students are planning to continue with the Youth Task Force next school year, and we’re so excited to have a strong foundation to start from. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

The Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program is a program of the Alameda County Transportation Commission and is funded with Alameda County’s local sales tax Measure B, regional, state and federal funds.


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