Know Your Advocate: Janelle Phung — Six Languages, One Common Goal

This year, the Safe Routes to School program is expanding from 15 San Francisco schools to 40 schools! This expansion means that even more San Francisco students, teachers and parents will have the resources and guidance they need to make safe, sustainable transportation options to get to school.

Safe Routes sponsors the popular Bike & Roll to School Week, Walk and Roll to School Day (October 8, 2014), and year round education and encouragement programs at select schools. As the Safe Routes to School Program grows, so does our youth and family focused staff. We’re thrilled to welcome Janelle Phung as the new Safe Routes to School Family and Schools Program Coordinator!

Janelle brings both extensive outreach experience and amazing communications skills to the role. Janelle speaks six (!) languages, so she can work with families from all different backgrounds, and help get them biking, walking and rolling to school. Janelle’s first languages are Chinese dialects spoken in her native country, Vietnam: Teochew and Fu-kien. She learned Mandarin and Vietnamese when she started school. After moving to San Francisco in 1992, she learned Cantonese and English at City College.

Before the school year kicks off and Janelle is out promoting biking, walking and transit to our next generation of San Franciscans, we thought we’d check in with her a bit more about her background and what she looks forward to most.

What have you learned at the SF Bicycle Coalition that surprised you?

In Vietnam, people just get on a bike and ride: there is no bicycle education. I walked at my last job, so I took the SF Bicycle Coalition Intro to Urban Bicycling class and it was so good: the class teaches riding safely, the rules of the road, even how to choose the right bike.

What excites you most about working for Safe Routes to School?

I want to be able to help families to walk or bicycle to school, because it is healthy to get the exercise, and will also reduce the pollution that comes from too much driving.

What has your recent outreach work for the SF Department of The Environment taught you about San Francisco?

I have done business outreach all over San Francisco, and I helped with Safe Routes to School over the past two years (as an Environment Now worker) on the idling reduction program and walk and roll events at schools. Most people are very nice! When they learn about the program they become interested, and want to work with us.

The Safe Routes to School expansion will bring Walk San Francisco and the SF Bicycle Coalition into closer partnership. The Safe Routes program team includes Janelle, Family and Schools Program Manager Nancy Buffum and also Genaro Escargaza, the new SRTS Program Coordinator at Walk SF. Learn more about SF Safe Routes to School, and contact us to learn how your school can join the Safe Routes To School movement in 2014-15.  Learn more about the SF Bicycle Coalition’s other youth and family work here.

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