Program gets kids walking safely to and from school.
There’s a new vehicle that takes kids to and from school. It’s called a Walking School Bus, and local elementary school students from around the region are boarding!
A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school together with one or more adults. Much like a school bus, as the students walk towards the school, they pick up more classmates along the way. Central Oregon schools include Bear Creek Elementary, Juniper Elementary, and Jewell Elementary in Bend, La Pine Elementary in La Pine, and Crooked River Elementary in Prineville. These schools all have trained Walking School Bus leaders who lead students on their journey to and from school, two days a week.
Each Walking School Bus has a set time and route that picks up kids along the way. In December, participating students at Bear Creek Elementary School enjoyed healthy snacks from OSU Extension’s Nutrition Education and Outreach Program, to learn about healthy food choices. Also available are “bike trains” that are similar in concept to the Walking School Bus, but instead of walking, kids ride bikes safely together to and from school.
Studies show that kids who walk or bike to school are healthier, happier, and often perform better in school. With rising obesity and diabetes rates, children’s health is improved when they get more physical activity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get, at minimum, one hour or more of physical activity each day. Walking to and from school is a wonderful way to help kids stay active throughout their day.
Commute Options’ Walking School Bus Coordinator Kersey Marion is designing the routes, hiring leaders, and promoting the program to schools, “When kids join the Walking School Bus, students can make new friends, learn how to walk safely, and get more physically active, while parents are able to help reduce traffic congestion around schools. I encourage students to join the Walking School Bus to get moving and have fun! Commute Options is very excited to have the opportunity to find ad pay our Walking School Bus Leaders right in your neighborhood.”
This program is funded through a grant from the Central Oregon Health Council’s Regional Health Improvement Plan (RHIP) Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup and is a program of Commute Options.