Friday morning there was much buzz around Tuscan Elementary School as we launched our first Walking School Bus! A “Walking School Bus” is a group of children walking safely to school with the help of adult volunteers. Children on the two routes: Blue Route (from Hilton Ave across Springfield Ave at Rutgers Ave) and the Yellow Route (from Oakland St on Prospect St.) beamed with Tuscan pride as they walked from their homes to school, some for the first time. As a ‘soft launch’, last Friday morning was an
(continue reading for more information on how to join, the breakfast provided by Rent Party, how the PE Department and Student Council are involved and more)
The Walking School Bus also provides many benefits to the community:
- · Provides activity for youth and adults
- Walking can provide a way for youth to meet their recommended amount of daily exercise. Also, walking in the fresh air helps to wake students up and gives them energy and increased focus for the school day
- Eases traffic congestion in drop off/pick up zones
- Having fewer students being driven to school will reduce the amount of traffic on the school grounds, improving safety at drop off/pick up areas and reducing exhaust from idling cars
- Teaches road safety
- The daily walk to and from school is a perfect opportunity to teach children the rules of the road
- Promotes socialization
- Walking routes are used by students of all ages as well as adults in the community. This interaction not only fosters a stronger sense of community, it also helps to bolster students’ communication skills
- Encourages lifelong walking habits
- According to the Centre for Transport Studies, even when children grow up and stop using the walking school buses, it is likely that they will choose to walk more often than if they were never exposed to the program.
The entire school — staff, teachers, children and parents — have been mobilized to participate in a safe, healthful program that will have them walking to school. The school staff, especially PE teachers Ted Panayoutou and Noelle Sullivan, and Marci Gordon who supervises the Student Council, have been working for the past several months with the students and drumming up enthusiasm within the school. Most of all, it was the unbridled enthusiasm of neighbors, parents and students who made the day a success. Brightly colored “Tuscan Tigers Walk!” lawn signs lined the routes as virtual ‘bus stops’. A creative third grader designed a school bus costume that he and another fellow fourth grader wore the entire route to school. Students arrived refreshed and cheerful and ran to meet their friends and start the school day. With over 25 students participating and almost 15 parent volunteers on both routes last Friday, we hope that the program will continue to grow.
Is it too late to join? As Pete the Cat would say, “Goodness No!” Complete the paperwork on the Walking School Bus page of the Tuscan PTA website: http://www.tuscanpta.org/walking-school-bus.html and either send it electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it off at the school office, Attn: Walking School Bus.
~ Candice Davenport and Cami Zelevansky, WSB Coordinators