At the end of 2016, the Sofia Municipality launched the “Green Sofia“ Project. The objective of its team was to outline the long-term strategy for Sofia’s sustainable development, as well as to prepare the first stage of Sofia’s candidacy in the "European Green Capital" Competition, organized by the European Commission.
Two of the major challenged, in solving of which “Green Sofia“ tries to achieve progress, are mobility and the quality of air in Sofia. In line with this the “Walk to School“ initiative was launched in 2017, aiming at encouraging parents of first-graders to prefer alternatives to using their personal cars for taking their children to/from school.
Three schools jointed the pilot programme “I WANT TO WALK!“: 2nd Secondary School of General Education in the Baxton District, 138th Secondary School in the Geo Milev District and 96th Secondary School in the Lyulin 4 district, with a total of over 450 first-graders and their parents.
Stage I "Preparation"
During the preparation for “I WANT TO WALK!“, dozens of pedestrian routes in the areas of the schools were studies with the involvement of a group of volunteers, in order to identify the necessary improvements in the infrastructure – sidewalks, street lighting, pedestrian crossings etc.
Stage II "Meetings with parents"
Prior to the start of the school year, the “Green Sofia“ team organized meetings with the parents of the first-graders in the three schools and presented the initiative. During these discussions, parents were provided with information on the results of the studies of the pedestrian routes, used by them and their children, and filled-in questionnaires, as the relevant results will be announced at the end of September.
Stage III "Games with Children"
Since the start of the school year, children have also been involved in the programme. Volunteers among them were given trackers – devices that record their routes from home to school and back. These routes will then be compared to the already investigated routes and final recommendations will be made regarding the walking routes.
Early next week we will also launch the interactive game “Traffic Snake” – the main method to be used in the attempt to motivate children to walk. Its duration will be two weeks and it will have a competitive nature. Children must put dots on a banner, every time they walk, cycle or use public transport or shared car trips to school. The idea is that at the end of the two-week period, the traffic-snake banner is filled with dots.
Stage IV "Volunteers"
The last element of the initiative is to ensure the safety of children at the major crossing along the routes to school. “Green Sofia“ is now launching a campaign to recruit volunteers to help children and their parents to cross more safety the main streets in the areas of the three schools.
Stage V “Walk to School” Week
After the end of the pilot project the “Green Sofia“ Team will try to significantly expand the scope of this initiative so that in 2018 schools from all city districts are covered.
In the spring of 2018 the Sofia Municipality will announce a “Walk to School” Week, and hopefully by then many more schools will have joined the initiative.
The partners of the pilot project are: Healthy Children in Bulgaria (Nestle), Decathlon, Architectural Workshop for Children, Energy Agency Plovdiv and Gorichka.
You can also become children’s partner and help them feel safe and carefree on their way to school!