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Walking School Buses

By Jay Morris, Walk Georgia Intern

August is here!

That means school will be starting soon, if it hasn’t already! Which also means you should plan your commute to avoid the students as they flood back into town, or map out the best route to keep you from getting stuck behind a school bus.

If only there was a way to have less traffic on the road, but still get all those kids to school. It turns out that schools, urban planners, and public health professionals alike have been working on a solution to this dilemma.

They call this solution the walking school bus!

Walking school buses are a form of active transport – meaning that kids are walking or biking to school instead of riding in a car or bus. This idea draws inspiration from the traditional school bus system, but then takes away the school bus to encourage physical activity!

Walking school buses not only decrease the amount of traffic on the road, they also provide a chance for kids to become more active. In turn, active kids tend to be healthier and more successful students.

One study finds that kids who were part of a walking school bus program not only became more active, they were also able to fight off unhealthy weight gain. Kids who walked to school were also more likely to meet physical activity guidelines. This is consistent with what we already know about physical activity protecting against obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses1.

For this reason, organizations all over the country are figuring out ways to turn school kids into active commuters. The Safe Routes to School Partnership is an organization that is working to make communities safer for kids who want to walk and bike to school. This includes working on ways to reduce traffic, build sidewalks, and create walking school bus programs in their communities. Their goal is to make kids safer, healthier, and more productive at school!

Research shows that kids who actively commute and receive enough physical activity find it easier to concentrate, earn higher grades, can remember more of what they learn, and are able to stay on task! Getting their energy out before class makes them less likely to fidget2.

That being said, you don’t have to wait on your school district or national organization to get a walking school bus together for your kids. See if some of the parents and kids in your neighborhood would be open to the idea. It would be a great way to build community, reduce traffic, and ensure your kids make the most of their education!

Here at Walk Georgia, we advocate strongly for healthy communities and lifestyles. Stay tuned for more opportunities to record your activity, connect with your community, and discover your potential.

References

  1. Heelan, K.A., Abbey, B.M., Donnelly, J.E., Mayo, M.S., & Walk, G.J. (2009). Evaluation of a walking school bus for promoting physical activity in youth. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health, 6(5), 560-567
  2. Safe Routes to School National Partnership. (2016) Quick facts and stats. Healthy Communities 101 Retrieved August, 2nd, 2016 from http://saferoutespartnership.org/healthy-communities/101/facts