“A Walking School Bus is a group of students walking to and from school with one or more responsible supervisors, such as a parent or neighbor. It is just like riding the bus…minus the bus!” exclaims Ashley Christensen, Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission Safe Routes to School Liaison. Physical activity is essential for healthy growth and development, and walking to and from school are simple ways to get children active. Physical activity also helps improve academic performance and classroom behavior.
The structure of every Walking School Bus is different, especially in Northeast Iowa. “Here in Northeast Iowa, each community is unique and varies from the next, making each of our Walking School Buses unique,” comments Christensen. In some communities, Walking School Buses run daily, regardless of rain or snow. In other communities, it works best to have a monthly “Remote Drop-off Location”, where kids are dropped off at a location off of school grounds and walk the remaining trip to school.
“The Northeast Iowa region has some phenomenal parents, school staff and community members who are truly starting a revolution on how students are traveling to and from school- all for the same reason: for the health and well-being of our children, our future leaders. We are searching for those Walking School Bus champions in each and every one of our Northeast Iowa communities. We know that they are out there, but they are probably already walking so fast we just haven’t caught up with them yet,” says Christensen with a smile.
If you would like more information or are interested in starting a Walking School Bus program in your neighborhood, please contact Christensen at 563-382-6171 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Christensen works closely with schools and communities to enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to and from school. She partners with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, which promotes healthy, locally grown food and active living and play in the region (www.iowafoodandfitness.org). Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission is a council of governments helping Northeast Iowa communities build the future of their region (www.uerpc.org).