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Challenges & Contests

Golden Sneaker

What are Challenges and Contests?

Contests and incentive programs are fun, motivational initiatives that reward students or classrooms by tracking the number of times they walk, bike, carpool, or take transit to school. Contests can be focused on the individual, a classroom, school-wide, or between schools. Students, classrooms, and schools with the highest percentage of students using alternative transportation can win prizes.

Students who live too far away from school to walk or bike can be included by designating a park-and-walk location where families can park approximately a half-mile away and walk together to school. Mileage-based contests allow students to walk or bike at lunchtime or during gym class and students can count the miles walked or biked with parents and guardians outside of the school day.

Walk and Bike Competition Inspiration:

  • A Pollution Punchcard tracks each time a student walks, bikes, or carpools to school with a hole punch or stamp to their pollution card. Students receive a reward when the punch card is complete or for the most punches per classroom. Marin County Safe Routes to School developed a Pollution Punchcard Guidebook for contest organizers.
  • Walk and Bike Challenge Days record the number of times students walk and bike during designated days. Students may receive a sticker or small incentive, with a larger prize for ongoing participation or via a raffle.
  • The Golden Sneaker Award honors the class with the most students who walk and bicycle to school. Marin County Safe Routes to School has a Golden Sneaker Guidebook with instructions, and Albany Middle School created a Golden Sneaker Contest Video in conjunction with Alameda County Safe Routes to School.
  • The Walk Across America/California/Pacific Crest Trail is a year-round program that teaches students to track their mileage by learning how many steps or blocks are in a mile. As an additional bonus, students can learn United States geography as their accumulated mileage takes them to different locations throughout the country. Marin County Safe Routes to School has a Walk and Bike Across America Guidebook with instructions on how to begin.
  • Marin County Safe Routes to School's Green Team Guide has resources for trip tracking contests and other activities.
  • Sonoma County Safe Routes to School’s ECO2school program includes an online trip tracking tool. Students can win participation prizes and daily incentives, as well as online medals, which can be shared on Facebook.

Challenge Incentives

Each of these programs can use incentives to increase participation and reward the students for their efforts. Local businesses may be willing to provide incentive prizes for these activities.

Examples of incentives include:

  • Shoelaces
  • Dog tags
  • Pedometers
  • Reflective zipper pulls
  • Bicycle helmets
  • Raffle tickets for a bicycle from a local bike shop
  • Early dismissal
  • Extra recess time
  • Pizza parties