Great Bend’s Unified School District 428 is about to launch a Walking School Bus program in all five of its elementary schools and adult volunteers are needed.
A Walking School Bus is a group of children who walk to school together under the supervision of a trained adult leader. This is where the volunteers come in, said Gwen McDonald, WSB coordinator at Eisenhower Elementary.
“The more adults we have, the more routes we can have,” she said. Ideally, they would like at least four routes at each school with two adults on each.
“We are willing to take as many volunteers as we can get,” she said. This will allow them to get more kids involved.
The program promotes good health, a cleaner environment, and reduced traffic around school. It also allows children to have a safe, consistent system to walk to school on a regular basis, even when traffic, weather and crime are concerns.
They are currently looking for adult volunteers to serve as leaders to walk with children each morning.
The program starts on Wednesday April 1 and finishes on Thursday May 21.
Volunteers can give one hour of their week or up to five hours a week, can choose to walk one morning or up to five mornings, and pick which school they want to walk for. Routes run from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and are about one mile long.
Walking School Bus safety information will be provided to every participating family and volunteer.
A one-hour training session for volunteers is suggested. Dates of trainings are: 4 p.m. March 25, 7 p.m. March 26, and 10 a.m. March 28. All take place at the Eisenhower School Library.
Background checks will be run on all volunteers.
Last fall Riley Elementary was one of 15 pilot schools in the state to match volunteers with students to walk designated routes to school. An average of 70 children walked three different routes daily during the six-week program.
Following up on this success, the district will continue its partnership with PedNet Coalition, a non-profit organization that promotes active transportation through advocacy and educational programming.
All of the coordinators for the Walking School Bus are teachers at their respective schools. Besides McDonald, they include Bryan Scott, Riley; Alana Blessing, Park; Tyler Shirley, Jefferson; and Meredith Funke, Lincoln.
For more information or to be trained as a WSB Leader, contact McDonald at 620-793-1501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.