Karen Briones, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Los Gatos Union School District
Tell us about the SRTS video program and its audience.
RJ Fisher Middle School offers a video production class to seventh and eighth grade students. Students work on writing, filming, producing, and editing their own projects. Often, Safe Routes to School (SRTS) topics are covered that are then featured in the school’s video announcements. Some topics covered already include how to cross a nearby intersection on a bike or how to lock your bike to a campus bike rack. Videos are always checked for accuracy by the teacher as well as our local Student Resource Officer, who works for the Los Gatos Police Department.
What was the inspiration for this program?
The school has been offering the video production class for a long time. A few years ago, I submitted a small SRTS-related announcement to be featured the next week. The teacher who administers the announcements loved the idea and we started coming up with more ideas for students to focus on for classroom credit and to convey other safety tips to all students. It was a natural fit.
Did you face any challenges in implementing this program and how did you overcome them?
We are working with middle school kids, so it can be hard to keep them focused. Also, some topics do not translate well on camera. For example, we give helmet fitting lessons to fourth grader students in our district. We invited some of the video production students to come film the lessons. However, the students do not have enough experience to capture the lessons correctly to make a useful one to three minute video that explains proper helmet fitting technique. But that is okay because it was a learning experience for all of us.
For others who may want to implement a similar project, what advice would you give them?
For schools wanting to further integrate SRTS, having an established class or other resource that can integrate SRTS topics helps immensely. Interested teachers or parents can and will help, but with the established class, it will be easier.