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The Walking School Bus
October 9 is International Walk to School Day. By creating a neighborhood Walking School Bus, the whole family can participate in a single activity that combines family and community togetherness, fitness and fun.
Create a Walking School Bus – on October 9 or more often – and get kids out of the car and onto their feet.
It is what it sounds like
A Walking School Bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults “driving.” It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to and from school, or a structured route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.
You don’t have to start with a big, full bus. In fact, it may be smart to start with a small bus and see how it works.
- Choose a single neighborhood or block with groups of children in the same school.
- Ask who is interested in building the bus, getting exercise and visiting with neighbors.
- Invite interested families to pick a route and take a test walk without the kids.
- Make a schedule of how often the group will walk together. At least once a week would be a great goal!
- Try to adjust work schedules so each parent can “drive.”
As it grows
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend one adult supervisor for every six children. If the kids are 10 or older, you may need fewer adults; if they’re between 4 and 6 years old, you will need one adult for every three children.
- Teens: If your school is at the end of the route, ask the adults who are planning the bus if you can be a “driver in training.” You may be just the extra hand the neighborhood needs to “drive” kids home at the end of the school day too. Remember, you’ll have to be reliable and dependable when you take on this responsibility. This is a great way to prove you have those skills.
An alternative to the Walking School Bus is the Bicycle Train. Here, adults supervise a group of bike-riding students on their way to and from school.
As you develop your route, review these points and be sure everyone will be safe.
- Is there room to walk as a group?
- Are there sidewalks and paths?
- Is there too much traffic and is it speeding?
- Is it easy to cross the street?
- Do drivers behave well and yield to walkers?
- Does the environment feel safe and free of loose dogs and criminal activity?
Find more information, useful tips and a simple tool for mapping your route online at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
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