Writers:  Trevor Henderson, Black Gold School Division Wellness Lead, with support from Tracey Coutts and Shauna Miller-Shaker


Ever Active School supports many Active School Travel (AST) projects across the province which boast some pretty amazing outcomes, one of which continues to shine in Leduc, Alberta. In 2020/2021, Black Gold School Division Wellness Lead, Trevor Henderson, began his AST journey by championing a School Travel Planning (STP) project at his West Haven School, with the primary goal of improving student wellness by encouraging walking and wheeling for trips to and from school. Those efforts were so successful that they generated a new challenge – the need for more secure bike, scooter, and skateboard storage at the school site – one that Trevor and his team were determined to address. His journey has been shared during Leduc Active Transportation Charter consultation sessions as it sparks an important conversation around the benefits and challenges of prioritizing active transportation.

As the West Haven Public School Health Champion and Wellness Instructional Support Teacher, my collaborative work with EAS and the City of Leduc began initially as part of an AST mentorship program that was funded by Leduc’s Healthy Hearts Committee. Through our participation, we were able to address some of our school health goals including increased student physical activity. Green Communities Canada’s STP toolkit supported our collection and integration of useful feedback from our entire school community that helped us better direct our actions. Supported by EAS, I was also able to access grant funding via a Community ChooseWell grant which helped us to further promote active travel by allowing us to:

  • address some of the identified challenges with active travel storage and air quality monitoring (bike and scooter rack purchases, Purple Air monitoring system)
  • reduce barriers to active transportation (locks, bells, bike lights, and safety equipment purchases);
  • and increase school community understanding of active transportation.

As part of our AST work, a walkabout report was submitted to the City of Leduc’s Traffic Advisory Committee. Because of this step, our school was able to further address some barriers to active travel as highlighted by parents and community members. The installation of a rectangular rapid flashing beacon at the school’s main crosswalk and additional signed and painted crosswalks within adjacent neighbourhoods were all completed in the interest of ensuring safer travel to and from the school while increasing access to Leduc’s multi-use trail.

Fast forward a few months and as a result of our meaningful focus on AST, our school soon found that rates of active travel among our students had risen dramatically. This meant finding a solution to a new challenge: active travel equipment storage. In working to fix the problem, I began sourcing out scooter storage solutions. I soon found that available storage products were upwards of $3500 a piece, not including shipping and oftentimes currency exchange. This amount was far beyond our school budget, so it meant we needed to be creative in our problem-solving. As fate would have it, I was able to connect with a parent who suggested I contact a local welding company to investigate the manufacturing of our own scooter/skateboard storage units in an effort to cut costs. Using an image of an existing product and our own measurements of what we wanted in the final design, I contacted Ja-Co Welding in Nisku, Alberta about the possibility of producing a few skatedocks for use at the school. Ja Co accepted the challenge and was able to produce a design for a little less than similar products on the market. In an effort to reduce the cost further, we asked that the design be tweaked. Ja Co then came back with a design that saved us a significant amount while still meeting all of the intended design requirements. The skatedocks would now only cost $2400 per rack, meaning we could afford three racks as opposed to two. Furthermore, shipping costs were no longer part of the equation as Ja Co. is a local company.

Once we had the rack’s design and cost sorted, I then took the design specs to the Black Gold School Division’s Facilities’ Department where I sought approval for their installation, which came back a day later! With the purposeful bottom bolt on the rack design, we were able to use existing infrastructure and save on installation costs by being able to simply secure the racks directly to existing concrete pads. Once installed, we delivered some quick tutorials on their use and it wasn’t long before they were filled with scooters from both our elementary and junior high students. The racks have definitely afforded the safe storage of equipment and assist in our ongoing promotion of AST as a way of staying physically active.

Driven by a singular goal of improving student wellness, Trevor and his West Haven School team made the decision to prioritize active school travel. Because of this, they have managed
to improve student health and learning outcomes, as a result of encouraging walking and wheeling to and from school;
to reduce vehicle emissions at their school site by encouraging their school community to shift to more active travel mode choices for school trips which, of course, saves on fuel costs for families too;

  • to improve the safety of school neighbourhood roads for walkers and wheelers;
  • to increase access to secure active transportation equipment storage for their school as well as other schools in their division;
  • and, lastly, to boost the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint of shipping new storage equipment by finding a local solution to their storage challenge.

These are the outcomes of one small, determined school team that made the decision to prioritize active transportation. Imagine what could happen when school jurisdictions and municipalities make the same choice collectively.

Scooter rack full of scooters to promote active school travel

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