Once upon a time, there was a parent named Sisyphus Jones. Sis was determined to encourage walking and biking at his kids' school, Elysian Fields Elementary. Everyday, he got up early to walk his kids to school and set up a table by the front doors to pass out incentives to students who walked and biked. Some days there would be a slight increase in kids walking and biking, but most days not. Sis never gave up. He just kept pushing forward knowing that one day, all his hard work would pay off. Families would arrive at school, happy and healthy after a great morning exercise. Kids would be ready to learn! The air quality would be so much cleaner! But right now, the reality of the situation seemed bleak.
One day, he found out about the Walk+Bike Network from Cassandra, a teacher at Minotaur Elementary across town. Sisyphus thought about not listening to Cassandra, he just had so much to do. "It's easy and only takes one minute," she said, persuading him to join the Network.
Over the next year, Sis found out about fundraising opportunities, trainings, retreats, and much more. When he had a problem, he would call into the monthly mutual aid call and get ideas from new friends across the state working to increase the number of families walking and biking. He was able to tell teachers at Elysian Fields about innovative curricula. He networked with parents, teachers, and city staff and even called his Oregon representative to promote legislation that would help his school.
In four years, Elysian Fields Elementary will experience a cultural shift. The first page of the student handbook will read: "At EF, we walk and bike to school whenever possible." During PE classes, students will learn safe walking and biking through hands-on instruction. The school district will own its own bike fleet so that classes can take field trips by bike. Crosswalks will be added to streets that have needed them for years! Sis will be the Sustainability Chairperson on the PTA with a team of parents to help promote sustainable and healthy living. Elysian Fields and Sis will be recognized with the Chiron Award at a citywide awards ceremony for influential people in the movement toward a healthier community. Friends and family will start calling him Chiron, kind of as a joke, but he'll like it.
Feel like Sisyphus? Join the Walk+Bike Network. We can help.