At the intersection of encouraging active transportation and helping to fight childhood obesity, there’s a new pilot program at three Guelph schools to encourage students to walk or bike to school. Be on the look out, the Walking School Bus may be coming to a neighbourhood near you.
The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) Committee sought and achieved funding from Green Communities Canada and the Government of Ontario to launch the Walking School Bus pilot program in Guelph.
What is the Walking School Bus? There’s a website that explains it:
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.
A variation on the walking school bus is the bicycle train, in which adults supervise children riding their bikes to school. The flexibility of the walking school bus makes it appealing to communities of all sizes with varying needs.
Most parents cite safety as a reason why they don’t let their kids walk to school, so the Guelph pilot will invite children to walk to school with an adult supervisor. This supervisor will be screened, trained and managed by the Service de transport de Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS).
A press release by the STWDSTS says that the program will allow students to “become more informed about road safety in their neighbourhoods while gaining confidence and increasing their levels of daily physical activity.”
Three Guelph schools will take part in the pilot: Mitchell Woods Public School will start things off in phase one from April to June, and then Holy Trinity Catholic School and Ken Danby Public School will start participating in Phase 2 in September. The second phase of the pilot will also get feedback from students, parents, and school employees, and will look at the development of sustainable models of active school travel.
There’s no cost for participating in the program, but you do have to register through the STWDSTS website here.
Photo Credit: School children participating in a Walking School Bus program in Alabama from This is Alabama.