The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is the legally recognized voice of parents at a school, and a forum in which parents meet to consider school and communities issues. A formal presentation to your school’s PAC is a good place to raise the issue of Active and Safe Routes to School and get a sense of what other members of your school’s community think about active transportation.
Active and Safe Routes to School initiatives rely on the time and energy of those who organize them. Presenting to the parent community will draw out like-minded parents to support and volunteer to help build a walking/wheeling culture at your school. If you have ideas that will enable more students and families to walk or bike to school, or concerns about the barriers that are keeping them from doing so, organizing a presentation will help you get time on your PAC’s agenda and allow you to inform and set the tone for the discussion that is sure to follow. A presentation can help you:
- Share information about the benefits of active travel with other parents,
- Raise awareness of safety issues or concerns at your school,
- Recruit volunteers and collaborators,
- Launch a program or campaign, or
- Accomplish any combination of the above.
Your audience at a PAC presentation is primarily your fellow parents. However, PAC meetings are often attended by other members of a school’s community. If you have engaged stakeholders within your school or community with an interest in supporting active school travel, ask your PAC chair to invite them to attend your presentation.
Get in touch with your PAC chair or executive to discuss your presentation and request to have it added to an upcoming meeting agenda. Once you’ve been approved, create your presentation. The resources section of this Toolkit includes a basic PowerPoint presentation to which you can add information about and images of your school: hastebc.org/asrts-toolkit-resources As you prepare your presentation, consider:
- the kinds of issues you want to raise,
- the messages that will resonate most strongly with your school and community,
- including graphs and tables that clearly communicate any information or data you've collected,
- using images rather than text, where possible, to engage your audiences and help illustrate concerns or opportunities, and
- focussing on positive ideas and messages like potential solutions to school transportation challenges and the benefits of active travel
While most PACs meet throughout the school year, some moments are better than others to raise a new topic and bring parents on board. Discussing your presentation with the PAC executive first will help ensure a good fit, but there are some meetings that, generally speaking, are best to avoid:
- September is a great time to encourage walking and cycling trips to school, and PAC attendance is often at its highest. But is also the busiest month of the year for many schools and their PACs: the first meeting of the year is likely to have a packed agenda and a lot of new faces.
- The last PAC meeting of the year could be a great opportunity to make plans for the coming school year. But spring is also when many PACs hold their elections, which can take over the entire agenda for a meeting and make it challenging to discuss other topics.
- It’s best not to be the second or third presenter at a meeting if you can avoid it. Many parents show up to PAC meetings after a busy day, and presentation fatigue can kill discussion on even the most engaging topic.