A generation ago, kids were thinner and healthier. Part of the reason for the increase in overweight kids is their lack of physical activity. While their parents were likely to swim, run, ride bikes, and walk, today’s kids are far more sedentary, frequently being driven to school and other activities. One innovative way to get kids up on their feet and moving is the Walking Bus.
How it Works
The Walking Bus is a group of school aged kids (typically 5-11 year olds) who walk to school in a large troupe. The group provides an opportunity for daily exercise in a safe, organised fashion. Staffed by adult volunteers who walk along and oversee the Walking Bus, the kids head off to school on routes that are pre-approved by a Road Safety Officer, assuring that they take the safest route. Additional kids can join the group at a series of stations. To make this walk even safer, the walking children wear reflective vests.
Benefits of Participating in the Walking Bus
In addition to the healthful exercise, there are other benefits to the Walking Bus. Many parents would like their kids to walk more, but are afraid for their safety. The Walking Bus, by its very nature, puts kids at an advantage over children who are walking alone. There is less of a chance that a child will be approached by an inappropriate adult while walking in a group, and a group of kids is far more visible to motorists than one child is alone. Additionally, the presence of adult volunteers provides parents with the assurance that their kids will be safely guided across streets.
Kids get a chance to chat and socialise on their way to school, helping them to form friendships. A bit of fresh air is good for Children, too, and teachers report that kids who participate in the Walking Bus are bright eyed and alert during class. Finally, Children who are driven everywhere by their parents don’t get the chance to learn about road safety. Being part of the group allows the kids to learn how to maneuver safely through traffic.
More Good Points
The kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from the Walking Bus. Fewer cars transporting kids to school each day means less pollution and less traffic, which is good for everyone. And Children aren’t the only ones getting fatter these days. Adults who volunteer and walk the kids to school may just see the scale tip in their favour, too!
Many schools are already participating in the Walking Bus, so one quick call to your child’s school may be all that you need to get your child started. If the program is not currently in place, you may wish to consider organising the Walking Bus at your location. With the help of a Road Safety Officer and your child’s Headteacher, you may be able to arrange a meeting for interested parents. Handing out flyers will help to spread the word, and in no time at all, your child’s classmates may be on the road to better fitness!