November 30, 2009

Play Matters Highlight: Freiker Program

FreikerWith the release of Play Matters, the new KaBOOM! study of best practices to inform local policy and process in support of children’s play, I wanted to start sharing excerpts to highlight these great activities.

Meet Boulder’s Freiker Program!

Freiker (short for “frequent biker”) is a parent- and volunteer-driven non-profit that uses incentives and innovative technology to increase the number of elementary school children regularly bicycling and walking to school. A solar-powered Freikometer counts daily trips. Children and parents can view and manage their data online, and students receive awards based on activity level. Within five years, this low-cost model has significantly increased physical activity and has spread to schools in four states and to Canada. Although launched in an affluent suburb, the program has also proven replicable in low-income and urban communities.

Those involved with Freiker are clear that the program is not solely about play. “It is about the joy of the outdoors, it’s about reconnecting with our neighbors. But it’s a very real solution to very critical issues,” Tim Carlin, one of the early partners of the program, says. He and the board members demur when someone calls Freiker a bike to school program. “It’s not a bike to school program,” he says. “It’s a tool to educate kids and their families that every decision you make about transportation has an impact, whether you realize it or not.”

Boulder’s case study can be read in full here (pdf).

Learn more about Play Matters and download other sections.

This article originally appeared in Play Times, the monthly newsletter of the KaBOOM! Playmaker program. You can sign up here!

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