Walking School Bus

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08 November 2017Students going to school on the walking bus

St Michael’s School, Ashburton, began their Walking School Bus program in 2007 and continues every Friday to operate three routes with eight to 15 students per route.

A Walking School Bus is a way to encourage primary school children to walk to and from school rather than being driven. Sophie from Grade 1 explains, ‘It’s not a real bus, it’s called a bus because you collect people along the way. You start at a special point and you get to walk to school together. There’s a grown up at the front and back and they look after us and walk to school with us.’

The children walk in a group with an adult ‘driver’ at the front and an adult ‘conductor’ at the rear. There is a designated adult to children ratio of at least 1:8 and the adult volunteers undergo training in road safety, first aid and duty of care and all hold Working With Children Checks.

Walking School Bus ‘passenger’ Harvey in Grade 1 says, ‘It’s not too long to walk to school and you can sometimes meet new friends from the school that you didn’t know before’.

St Michael’s Walking School Bus program began with local government funding but now the school manages and funds all aspects of their Walking School Bus program with the help of volunteers.Volunteers with the walking to school mascot

Stephen Molnar, the current Walking School Bus Coordinator at St Michael's says, ‘Our daughter commenced walking in the Walking School Bus program during Prep. It was a great opportunity for her to get to know children from other grades and to see the safe walking behavior modelled by the older students.

‘Now she is in Grade 5, we can confidently allow her to walk to and from school alone as she not only knows the way, but knows many homes along the way that are school families, should she need help.’

St Michael’s has found the Walking School Bus program provides significant benefits to its users, including:

  • Increases physical activity and combats the inactivity that is a threat to children's health
  • Reinforces road safety and introduces children into being street and traffic wise
  • Children arrive at school alert and motivated
  • Enjoyable and social experience being part of a group or team
  • Children become more familiar with their neighbourhood
  • It's fun!

October was Walk to School month, an initiative of VicHealth to promote walking to school as a fun and easy way for Victorian primary school kids to build healthy habits for life.