The Technical Institute Sint-Antonius has won the CIVITAS school competition 2012 with a tailormade walking map for young pupils. They took €2,500 of prize money home.
From October till the end of April 2012, nine secondary schools of Ghent have participated in the school project for better mobility. The project plan was twofold. Firstly, there is a focus on gathering data on the modal split and data for the obstacle analysis. Secondly, schools were invited to organise a campaign with a focus on one specific theme. The participation and engagement of students was crucial for the succes of the competition. Schools were coached by an employee of the Municipal Mobility Company, which appeared to be a critical factor for success. A quick overview of the participating schools: Sint-Barbara College: The student council organised several activities for cyclists because they were convinced that students are not aware of the traffic rules for cyclists. For the youngest students they organised a bicycle quiz that pupils could complete on computers at school. In the last year, the students had a conversation with a "hands-on" expert, a father who lost his daughter in a traffic accident. On top of this, the school organised a bike registration event at the school. Mobischool: It was not easy for the very young children of different nationalities of the participating class to work out the modal split, calculate distances from home to school and think about obstacles on their way to school. Fortunately, the school is specialised in mobility (car and bike) and pupils had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on bicycle repair coached by older students. Although only two of the 14 pupils own a bike, they were very enthusiastic about a small cycling workshop. They also had lessons about safety and the blind corner of trucks. Don Bosco Technisch Instituut (2nd prize winner): Students of 3rd, 6th and 7th grade worked together. They were annoyed by the problem of lots of students standing on the bike lane at the end of the school day. This creates a dangerous situation for cyclists who have to swerve to the big road. This technical school built a fake police man and a police car with a flashing light from wood marking a division between bike lane and footpath. These wooden silhouettes can also be lent to other schools. They hope that their efforts will result in more permanent solutions. Sint-Bavo humaniora: Students of the 4th grade Latin class wanted to emphasize the importance of knowing your rights and your obligations as a cyclist and pedestrian in a big city. They focused in particular on two situations at the school entrance: a) students not using the footpath and the zebra crossing and b) people cycling on the wrong side of the road. On two mornings, the students were standing in the street with balloons, asking offenders to follow the traffic rules and giving them a flyer with more information. They also posted a little film on the website of the school. Hotelschool of Ghent (3rd prize winner): Students in 4th grade of the hotel school were easily irritated by older people on the bus. They wondered why old people had to take the bus at the same hours as they do when “old people have lots of time”. To solve this problem they agreed to go into a debate and posed questions to five seniors. After the debate they already had a better understanding and respect. Furthermore a student designed a poster to hang in the school and they followed a programme about respect and vandalism that was organised by the public transport company. The icing on the cake was a film that they shot on the bus with situations where seniors behaved in a bad way. At the end of the film it luckily turned out to only be a dream. Hoger Technisch Intituut Sint-Antonius (1st prize winner): All first-year pupils go to school by tram, although they could list a lot of disadvantages compared to going on foot. In small groups they walked different routes and measured the distance, minutes and number of steps. This information was used to create a walking map on which their most frequent routes are marked including walking time. The purpose was to make the pupils walk rather than waiting for another tram when the first is full or running late. This was not an easy task because of language barriers and the children's young age. Handelsschool Sint-Joris: They wanted to promote walking and cycling in the context of health care. Different classes could take the Challenge (= name of the contest) to compete with each other to reach the most sustainable kilometres.These km were monitored carefully per class through a computer programme, which measured results in term of CO2 reduction and burnt calories. The class with the highest rate of sustainable km won filmtickets. They also provided all teachers with a step counter for a week to encourage them to walk, as well. Moreover, they had a photo contest on Facebook. Steinerschool: The student council had noticed that their school was not very visible from the street, which has negative side effects such as fast driving and cut-through traffic. To make the school more visible, they designed a big banner to hang above the entrance. They also asked all neighbours to hang a small poster reading "30 max" on their windows. Then they asked the police to close the street for one day: first they decorated the street with slogans and traffic signs in chalk; then they danced with 250 students to a song about safe traffic. Due to the huge succes of this initiative, the Mobility Department decided to continue the efforts in secondary schools in the next years.
Author: Sabine Van Lancker