Yes, it’s true, the wheels on the bus go round and round, but this fall, there’s an even better way to get to and from school. It’s called a walking school bus and it’s a triple threat: getting kids more active, helping to save the planet by using less gas, and cutting down on schools’ time and cost commitments.
What is a walking school bus? The walking school bus is a revolutionary concept, yet still very simple. It is a group of kids who walk to or from school, with one or more adults as chaperones. It can be casual between families, or more organized with meeting points, structured routes, volunteer outreach and schedule rotations. Because walking school buses are supervised on legitimate routes by adults, they provide added safety as opposed to kids walking to or from school alone. The walking school bus can also be turned into a bicycle train when adults supervise a group bike ride to school. The bike train works well for groups who live farther from school, but still want to be active.
Why try a walking school bus? It’s hard to say what the best part of walking school buses is because there are many, but here are just a few:
- Cutting back on bus usage reduces school district transportation costs
- Cuts back on environmental pollution via car exhaust
- Allows kids time to be out with their friends
- Gives parents daily exercise time with their kids
But what about the bus drivers? Will they lose their jobs? Don’t worry, schools can contract them to serve as walking school bus “drivers” to chaperone groups of kids. The sky is the limit with this program. The National Center for Safe Routes to School and the U.S. Department of Transportation have provided simple, easy to use resources to start a walking school bus nearly anywhere in the nation.
Between rising childhood obesity rates, and Michigan weather patterns, the program would be perfect for many locations across the state. With back to school season upon us, there’s never been a better time to get a walking school bus started in your community. Even if you can’t get a “bus” together, be sure to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 8! It’s yet another great way to enjoy the outdoors and be well throughout the school day.
Are there any walking school buses available where you live? What do you think of the idea?
Photo credit: Jessica Lucia