If someone were to tell you that an old sneaker spray painted gold would motivate an entire student body to walk, would you believe it?—Seriously? In October of 2012, Sacred Heart Elementary of Mt. Holly decided to partner with Cross County Connection to establish a Safe Routes to School program. Located along a congested corridor, the school’s parking lot used to become a battleground during student arrival and dismissal times leaving teachers and school officials to become traffic mediators.

This problem left Principal Carla Chiarelli with a dilemma—how could her school participate in an initiative which aims to encourage children to walk and reduce the congestion around the school? Principal Chiarelli, along with SRTS Coordinator David Calderetti, devised a plan. Fairgrounds Plaza, located a half mile away, would be used as a satellite drop off location for parents, and teachers would then walk the students to school! One more question came up, would students be willing to walk that far…

In honor of International Walk to School Day 2012, Sacred Heart Elementary launched their satellite walk to school initiative on October 10th. The event was an instant success! The coveted GOLDEN SNEAKER (a beat up tennis shoe sprayed gold and mounted on an old trophy stand) was awarded to the grade with the most participating walkers. Since then, the school has had numerous satellite walk to school days to raise awareness for health and social issues, including Hurricane Sandy relief and breast cancer.

Watch Mrs. Skelly’s 2nd Grade receive the honor known as THE GOLDEN SNEAKER!


What exactly should we take from this:

  • Motivating children to make the healthy choice of walking to school does not take much!
  • No excuses—whether a school is tucked away in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey or located in an urban environment, participating in Safe Routes to School activities can occur anywhere! 

Special thanks to SRTS Coordinator David Calderetti for putting this post together.  Great work Sacred Heart Elementary and great work Cross County Connection!