Archive for Wednesday, February 3, 2010

5 Questions: The feet on the bus go…

Walking School Bus program coming to town

Katharina Poetter Krouse, Walking School Bus Program Manager, talks about a new program coming to Tonganoxie elementary and middle schools that encourages students and parents to walk to and from school.

Katharina Poetter Krouse, Walking School Bus Program Manager, talks about a new program coming to Tonganoxie elementary and middle schools that encourages students and parents to walk to and from school.

February 3, 2010

Q: What is the Walking School Bus program?

A: The program encourages children to walk to school, supported by trained volunteer “bus drivers” who walk the route with them making it a safer experience. The bus drivers can be parents or other members of the community. There are two variations of the program. One is where the bus drivers pick up the children from or close to their home. The other is establishing a drop-off location from which the group walks together.

Q: What are some of the benefits of the Walking School Bus program?

A: The benefits of the program include healthy daily activity to increase fitness and prevent health problems, reduced traffic in our neighborhoods and around our schools, real dollars and cents savings for parents, improved behavior and healthy friendships for the children, opportunities to connect with nature and the community, improved academic performance related to increased physical activity, reduced CO2 emissions, children learn valuable pedestrian safety skills and it fosters healthy habits that continue throughout the children’s lives

Q: When do you expect to start the program in Tonganoxie?

A: We are currently in the planning and recruitment phase of the program. The program will officially be kicked off with a Spring Walk to School Day on March 31.

Q: How many parent volunteers do you need?

A: To begin, we need one volunteer coordinator at each school. The coordinator helps with recruiting and encouraging other parents to become bus “drivers.” Once these are in place, the coordinator determines suitable walking routes and makes schedules for who walks when and where. As the program is established, this person acts as the day-to-day contact for all bus “drivers.”

The number of bus “drivers” needed depends on how many children sign up to walk. Let’s just say, the more the merrier. These volunteers can give as little or as much time to the program as they want. Children can be walked in the mornings and/or the afternoons. Most programs start out with walking once a week and when it gains momentum and popularity, it can be expanded to more days a week.

Q: How can volunteers get involved?

A: There are volunteer sign-up sheets at the school offices of the elementary and middle school. You can also call me at (816) 561-1061, ext. 131, or e-mail me at katharina@bridgingthegap.org. For more information also see our Web site: http://www.bridgingthegap.org.

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