North Van's walking school bus
Paul Dickson doesn’t drive his 11-year-old daughter to school, even in the rain.
Instead he leads a “walking school bus” door-to-door through Pemberton Heights, picking up students headed to and from Capilano elementary school.
“Parents were driving their kids, even just a couple blocks, or they were walking right beside each other,” says Dickson. “Now it’s more organized, and kids can get there safely.”
Dickson is helping co-ordinate volunteers for Cap elementary’s walking school bus, which picks up students along specific routes.
“We all know the long-term repercussions of not exercising, so this is a way to get kids used to walking places, instead of always driving,” says Dickson, whose job as a firefighter allows him to still be at home before the bell rings.
The idea for the walking school bus was pushed by four SFU students who made it into a class project. They launched a website (wsb2012.weebly.com) to match students with specific routes. So far, around 25 families are involved.
“A lot of parents drive. We have traffic congestion around the school from 8:30 to 8:45,” says Cap elementary’s principal Jennifer Wilson.
She says parents are wary of sending their children to school by themselves or even in groups if they have to navigate a busy street.
“We have students that have to cross Capilano Road and we pull from above the highway too. They could all walk to school, but parents aren’t always comfortable with it.”
Keeping more cars at home is also good for the environment and can help save money of gas, Wilson adds.
She hopes the new walking school buses will encourage walking by providing a parent volunteer to lead the group. Volunteers are offered a traffic training course through ICBC and safety vests to wear en route.
Visit wsb2012.weebly.com to sign your child up for a walking school bus in the Pemberton Heights area.