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SRTS Case Study: Chicago, Illinois Community Makes it Safe for Children to Walk to School

The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1962 to unite the members of its inner-city community in northern Chicago. It can be dangerous to walk to school in LSNA because of gang violence and drug activity.

In 1995, LSNA began the Parent-Mentor program, in which parents work in eight of the neighborhood schools. Each year, about 120 parents, or 10 to 15 parents per school, are hired and trained to assist teachers for two hours each school day. At the beginning and end of each day, some of the parents act as crossing guards and help the children to cross nearby streets. Although the city provides crossing guards at major street crossings, the parent-mentors help the children at smaller street crossings near the school.

To further ensure a safe walk to school, the Active Living by Design partnership, of which LSNA is the lead partner, began a walking school bus program in 2006. The program works in collaboration with Chicago public schools, Ames Middle School and its neighboring feeder school, McAuliffe Elementary School. Several parents who already walk with their children to school agreed to become captains and lead other children to school. Parents committed to daily walking to and from school, providing both physical and emotional safety to the children. Active Living by Design annually hires an AmeriCorps member, who is also a community resident, to serve as program coordinator. The coordinator’s responsibilities are to recruit parents who have passed a background check and tuberculosis test and to recruit students. To promote the program, LSNA organized a logo design contest among the students. The winner won a bicycle and had the design printed on walking school bus t-shirts.

A partner of Active Living by Design is Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), a Chicago police program that works closely with the community. CAPS staff trains walking school bus captains.

After the first successful year, the walking school bus expanded to Funston and Mozart Elementary Schools. The program currently has 70 children walking to school and 11 captains stationed along 10 routes.

The community applauds the walking school bus program, and there are plans to continue the event during the upcoming school year.

The Active Living by Design partnership applies for various grants to run its program, which costs approximately $25,000. The partnership plans to apply for federal Safe Routes to School funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation for the fall 2008 school year.

For more information contact: Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Health Organizer/Active Living & Healthy Eating Logan Square Coordinator

Phone: (773) 384-4370 ext. 43  Email:

For more resources and information on Safe Routes to School, please visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School Web site at

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