HOISINGTON — Walking or riding a bike is a healthy, wholesome activity, and students walking to and from school gives kids great outdoor exercise. USD 431 Hoisington School District has received two grants for a Walking School Bus that begins this fall, from Oct. 1-Nov. 14. A Walking School Bus, where a parent volunteers walk with the kids to school, is one of the latest initiatives to get kids outside and combat obesity.
The district will have two six week periods where they will have volunteers walk the kids to school in the morning. They will walk for six weeks this fall, and six weeks this spring.
It is voluntary. “The parents sign kids up,” said Kim Kindscher, coordinator. “We’ll pick up kids.”
The volunteers will teach safety crossing streets, watching for cars, and using sidewalks.
Amy Humphrey is the coordinator for Lincoln School and Kindscher is the coordinator for Roosevelt School, and they are accepting volunteer adults to walk students. All volunteers undergo a background check.
The walks begin at 7 a.m. and run until 8 a.m. Children who eat breakfast will be there in time to eat.
The district is also hopeful that the measure will reduce congestion in front of the schools. Kindscher said her children are excited about the Walking School Bus, and she expects that it will turn into a community effort with older kids too because the shuttle buses won’t be running.
The school will do studies on the results of the walks. The maximum route length is one mile, which is a 30 minute walk for children.
The goal is to “have students walk/bike to school to increase activity,” said Superintendent Bill Lowry at the USD 431 school board meeting in June. The district hopes to encourage health and as well as reducing transportation costs. An added plus is the reduction of vehicle pollution.
They do hope the walk starts turning into habits and that parents see its benefits too. Kids arrive at school alert and ready to start the day of learning.
Lowry applied for the grant.