10 02 25 Walking School Bus

        Some of the necessary changes if we are to move from a culture of consumerism to a culture of sustainability will be expensive, but some are not expensive at all. Some changes are win-win. A Walking School Bus to replace (or complement) our big yellow buses is win-win. Today, it seems, riding to school in a motorized vehicle has become the norm. I do not have the statistics, but as I look around the community of Steinbach, I see buses not only bringing in students from the rural areas, but also bringing students resident in Steinbach to the schools. Many of us remember a time when buses brought rural students to school, but urban students walked. 

        I do not remember a public dialogue that lead to this shift from walking to bussing. Maybe the dialogue took place and I missed it. Maybe the Hanover Division transportation coordinator made the decision in isolation. Sometimes these things “just happen.” Has this been a welcome shift? Some may think so. The South Eastman Transition Initiative thinks this practice needs to change. 

        What we are proposing is that we consider as normal, that students within walking distance of school actually walk to school. We recognize that children below certain age need supervision as they walk to school, but we believe this supervision can be given through a Walking School Bus

        The idea is simple. Children needing supervision as they go to school gather at a designated spot and at a specified time, walk to school as a group under the supervision of one or more adults. Whether these adults are parent volunteers or employees of the school system needs to be negotiated. 

        This idea is not new. A web search will quickly reveal that this is occurring in other communities, and that a Walking School Bus has many proponents in many places.

        The benefits of a Walking School Bus are not hard to identify:

  • At a time when we are being told that childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic, walking to school becomes useful exercise for children.
  • It contributes to a lowering of our school taxes as the Division is able to save on bus and driver expenses.
  • It reduces our carbon footprint because it reduces the demand for buses, and reduces the consumption of fuel.
  • It promotes community as parents participating in the “school bus” get to know each other and neighborhood children.
  • It provides an opportunity (dependant on leadership) for children to become more aware of their natural surroundings 

        It is time for Steinbach and the Hanover School Division to make this change. In order for this change to occur, someone needs to initiate it – probably a parent group or a school principal.  For additional information go to Walking School Bus