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A walking school bus promotes exercise and community connections



Photo: woodleywonderworks/Flickr

If you’re already feeling the monotony of school pick-ups and drop-offs, we’ve got an idea that could liven things up a bit while also providing you with a deeper connection to your community, a little exercise, and fun for the kids.

Whether you are launching a little one into kindergarten or have a more seasoned student, you might want to consider a Walking School Bus for the commute to and from school. A Walking School Bus is a simple concept — a group of children walking to school with one or more adults along a prescribed route, picking students up along the way. It can be as casual as a group of neighbors taking turns walking their kids to school, or more formal with routes, schedules and official stops.

Lawton Elementary in Magnolia has a thriving Walking School Bus program that was started by 4th grade teacher Lyon Terry. Over time, the program has grown into a highly successful and formalized system with five routes, schedules, safety rules and a group of safety volunteers who walk the kids along each route.

When we asked him for tips on how to get your own Walking School Bus program started, he offered these helpful hints:

  1. Find people who walk already. They will be your leaders.
  2. Start with one day per week.
  3. Check out International Walk and Bike to School Day.
  4. Use Google Maps to easily draw your route and show starting points.
  5. Be sure you know the route you are sending people on. Know your walks!

The benefits are multi-faceted: fewer cars in the drop-off line traffic jam, a chance to get to know your community and meet neighbors, and perhaps most importantly, the kids get to have fun and work on their communication skills.

The Seattle School District can help you get started by helping to identify where students live so that you can plan a route, and once you’re up and running, the Seattle Department of Transportation will even install Walking School Bus Stop signs to formalize the stops along your route.

For help getting started in your neighborhood, email Yvonne Carpenter at ylcarpenter@seattleschools.org or call 206-252-0907.

 

 

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