Child Safety: Organize a "Walking School Bus"
Child safety while walking to school is a big issue for parents. With nearly 171,000 child pedestrians injured by vehicles each year, getting to school can be dangerous due to unsafe or inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks in today's suburban areas. In fact, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, 31 percent of kids in grades K-8 live within one mile of school and 35 percent of them usually walk or bike to school.
Despite the essential benefits of walking to school (regular exercise, traffic reduction, environmental awareness, and community involvement), parents are also fearful of exposure to strangers and a lack of supervision.
With children's safety in mind, school districts and city councils are now developing school safety programs which include healthy and fun school-walking plans. Safe Routes to School is a $612-million federal plan to help parents and schools promote exercise and child safety by creating secure, supervised, and organized school routes.
Walking School Bus Programs
Walking School Bus programs are part of the solution. A Walking School Bus is made up of groups of school children who are safely lead and supervised by volunteer adult "bus leaders" on the way to and from school. These groups of kids stick together as they walk to school along a safe, preset route.
With fewer parents driving to school, traffic around the school, especially at drop-off and pick-up points, will be greatly reduced — by over 20% in many areas.
Fortunately, Walking School Bus programs are well-accepted by kids because it gives them the opportunity to socialize while walking safely in groups, rather than being stuck in a car. Children like staying together before and after classes, walking with their own classmates and meeting students from others classes.
If you like the idea, your Walking School Bus could start off with as few as a couple of families, and as the Walking School Bus's popularity grows, additional student "passengers" can be picked up at predetermined "bus stops" along the safe-school route.
I Did This!
Improve school safety by starting a Walking School Bus program in your neighborhood:
With a Walking School Bus plan in place, your community will enjoy healthier students, quieter, more connected neighborhoods, and safer streets. Kids will look forward to the fun of getting to and from school, and parents will appreciate knowing that their child safety concerns have been addressed.
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