What is a Walking School Bus?
A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a group of students walking to and/or from school with two or more adults. Click here to see a short informational video to see how a WSB operates. Cedar Rapids has a Walking School Bus Committee with community members from many different professions and connections available to assist with questions and/or help get a program started at your school. The Cedar Rapids WSB Committee has put together many helpful documents that you may use to help start a program or even conduct a pilot program where you can try the WSB at your school for a one-week period.
The Cedar Rapids WSB Committee is available to meet with you and help facilitate the start-up process and get your program off and running. Please email the Cedar Rapids Walking School Bus Committee to find out more information or to help you get started.
Why start a Walking School Bus?
A WSB has many benefits including: promoting a healthy lifestyle, teaching traffic safety, increasing self confidence and a sense of responsibility, improving learning, developing social skills, instilling a sense of community, reducing traffic congestion, creating a cleaner environment, and best of all...it's FUN!!!
Where do I start?
The first step to starting a WSB is to gather a small group of people who are passionate about the idea of a WSB. People who promote social connectedness and/or physical activity are usually the top supporters of the WSB program. You can use school partners or civic organizations as well as school parents or even teachers (among many other options) to help with the effort. Click here to view a presentation about how and why to get a program started at your school. You can start by trying a pilot program to test out a WSB at your school for a one week period. If the pilot is successful and you think a WSB can be sustained at your school, you can start a permanent program specifically tailored to your school! It can range anywhere from once a week to school only to every day to and from school. The best part is it can be tailored specifically to your school!
Planning your WSB can be a fun process and can be done in conjunction with other nationally recognized events such as National Walk to School Day (1st Wednesday in October) and Bike to School Day (First Wednesday in May). You can register your program for either of these events at www.walkbiketoschool.org. This site also has interactive mapping tool that allows you to plan your route(s) and share them with others. The Cedar Rapids WSB Committee has also put together many helpful document templates that you can use to fit your school's needs whether you choose to start with a one week trial program or just jump right into a permanent program. These resources can be found below.
A pilot program is a one week trial of a WSB where students walk to school every day that week. This works best if it is held later in the spring toward the end of a school year or at the beginning of a school year in the fall to utilize good weather. It is a great way to test out the program to see if it will work at your school without the commitment of a full permanent program. The Cedar Rapids WSB Committee has put together a checklist to help you get your pilot started.
A permanent WSB program is the perfect way to encourage healthy lifestyles in students. The repetitive nature of the program promotes healthy changes in students' behavior which is likely to continue throughout the students' lives. The permanent program also develops a social connectedness that spans generations through the continual interaction of the students and community members who volunteer to be a part of the program.
Starting a permanent program may seem like a daunting task, but the Cedar Rapids WSB Committee has put together a MENU to help walk you through the process step by step. The committee is also available to assist you making it is easier than ever to jumpstart a WSB program at your school!
Here are some resources that may assist you with starting up your own Walking School Bus Program at your school: