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Start a walking school bus

Parents who feel time pressured may be unwilling to trade in the quick car ride to school for a slow morning stroll. The solution may be to start a walking school bus.

More than half of Canadian children aren't as active as they need to be for healthy development. Walking to school instead of driving not only is good for the environment, but is a great way to promote physical activity in kids. It even promotes safety by easing traffic around the school.

What is a walking school bus? It's a walking group, supervised by an adult (usually a parent), that collects neighbourhood students at prearranged stops and times. It provides a safe way for kids to get to school on foot. Parents take turns leading the bus, freeing others up to commute to work or run errands.

Want to get one started? Talk to your school administration, parent council, or other parents in your neighbourhood. Set up a meeting to make a plan, and do a walking tour as a group to figure out the best route.

How can you make it safe? When you plot the bus route, note the locations of safe areas to cross the street, like crosswalks and intersections. If possible, keep the route away from main streets where traffic tends to move faster. The "bus driver" should wear a brightly coloured hat, scarf, or vest so they're easily recognized by the children and other parents. And make sure all participants have contact information for each other, so that calls can be made last-minute if a bus driver is laid up or plans must change.

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