Pre-Event Communications

Pre-Event Communications

4-6 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR EVENTHedgehog with flash cards

Here are some examples of places to post your event, or ways to generate awareness of the upcoming event:

  • Parent Council agenda
  • School calendar
  • Website text – Save the Date!
  • Notify your neighbours, community association, community centre or those who share your facility
  • Newsletter article (what’s coming up, school priorities) (link to text)
  • Facebook post – you can even create a Facebook event that parents can like and share
  • Invite elected officials (Municipal Councillor, School Board Trustee, Mayor).
  • Check with Board Facilities to see if there is any upcoming construction that could affect your event
  • Send out requests for volunteers through the channels listed above.
  • Let OSTA know (link)

TOOL: We’ve created a Save the Date template for
you (link).

TOOL: Use this customizable invitation that you
can send to your Trustee, community partners,
City Councilors, etc. (link)

TIP: Know your audience! Choose a messaging
tone that speaks to your community: Serious and
factual for parents who like statistics or fun and
inviting but still pushes an underlying goal; sense
of urgency for schools that have specific issues or
neutral for a broader demographic.


As the event gets closer, engage students and start building excitement and school spirit!

  • Engage students to learn about active transportation through classroom activities, creating posters, flyers or other communications materials. This will also generate peer-to-peer communication, which reinforces the message and makes them a part of the event, not just participants.
  • Post your event on social media with an invitation to participants.
  • Inform your Board’s communications team of your event to augment your promotional efforts.

TIP: A poster contest is a great way to get
students involved in promoting Walk to School
Day! Invite them to create signs, posters, or
banners about why they like walking or wheeling.

TIP: Existing student clubs like a Green Team, Eco
Club or School Active Transportation Club, are
already thinking and living the message.
Engaging them is an opportunity for them to show
leadership and influence their peers.


The final promotional push is important for generating awareness and excitement about your event. Here are some opportunities to consider:

  • Ask parent volunteers to hang posters or flyers throughout the neighbourhood.
  • Send an electronic or hard copy newsletter home with your Walk-a-Block map and details about the event.
  • Conduct a student “hands-up survey” in classrooms and talk about the results with students.
  • Post positive motivational messages on social media to build excitement (link to text).

TOOL: Conduct classroom surveys so you have
baseline information to compare the event data
to. Data helps quantify results and can be fun to
use in math class to connect activities to
curriculum. Here is a link to a sample Hands-Up
Survey data collection form (link).

TIP: Putting up signs in your neighbourhood also
means taking them down after the event. Please
be a responsible and environmentally friendly


Here are a few things to think about on the days leading up to your event:

  • Does the Rain Date message need to go out? If yes, see the section above for the channels to use.
  • Post positive motivational messages on social media to build excitement (link to sample text)
  • Send an e-mail to remind volunteers of their tasks and the designated meeting point. Send your Site Plan to make it easy for them to see what is happening where, and key meeting points.

MITIGATE RISK: Let your bus/van drivers know that
your event may change traffic patterns and that
there will be more pedestrians than usual.


  • Send out Synervoice message (link).
  • Ask teachers to remind students that the event is taking place tomorrow. Students can put a note in their agenda to remind parents.


While the event is taking place, share your event on social media to demonstrate success and inspire other schools to try it, too. It’s also important that on site communication happens at the beginning so everyone knows what to do and what their role is in running a fun, safe, inclusive event. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Ensure the point person is ready to greet staff/volunteers at the gathering place to share instructions.
  • Post pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with captions.
  • Post positive messages about your event.

MITIGATE RISK: Candid shots are always fun to
look at, but be mindful of which students may
have their pictures taken and distributed. Student
privacy and protection are a priority. Setting up
some shots with “authorized students” might fill
the gap.

TIP: You can amplify your message by “tagging”
other organizations that have similar interests.

Tag Partners

Ottawa Student Transportation Authority cares about all mobility options for students.

EnviroCentre delivers Student Active Transportation Planning Program to schools across the city.

Your Ottawa Public Health School Health Nurse is an important partner.

Your School Board Communications Department will gladly share your event.

@ (enter trustee
or city councilor handle)
Find out your elected officials’ handles. They will be happy to share your event, and may even join you if possible.


A “hashtag” allows followers to link up conversations through a common topic. In Ottawa, we use:


After the Event

Say thank you to your community, students, parents, partners, and elected officials by posting a thank you note. Here are some ideas:

  • Post a thank you for those who worked hard putting on the event on social media.
  • Share the success of the event including any data that you captured that shows the event increased the number of people walking to school.
  • Post pictures of your school drop off area with fewer cars and tell the community why this is important to the school and students. Showing people what is possible and connecting their transportation choice to a healthier and safer school zone is an effective way to demonstrate that change is possible.
  • Provide students with a certificate of participation. This is something they can bring home, be proud of and can motivate them to keep doing it.

TOOL: We have created a customizable certificate
of participation. Just use mail merge with student
names, and fill in your school’s information.


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