Walk to School Day kicks off with announcement of Walking School Bus pilot project
October 3, 2018
GUELPH, Ontario – The rain held off and it ended up being a fantastic day to walk to school.
On October 3, schools across the UGDSB held Walk to School and Walk at School events.
Walk to School Day is celebrated in more than 40 countries, with students and their families walking, biking or wheeling to and from school. In the Upper Grand, students who are bused to school are encouraged to celebrate Walk at School Day, taking some time during the day to walk around their school property with teachers and friends. Centennial Hylands Elementary School, for example, held a community walk to include students who are bused to school each day.
On Wednesday morning, students, staff and parents from Brant Avenue Public School and St. Patrick Catholic School met at Ferndale Park in Guelph for an event organized by the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) Committee (pictured below).
Special guests from the Upper Grand DSB, Wellington Catholic DSB, City of Guelph, Guelph Police, Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS) and Green Communities Canada attended the event, celebrating active travel. James Gordon, Guelph City Councillor representing Brant Ave and St. Patrick’s area Ward 2, emceed the event. Greetings were brought by Linda Busuttil, Chair of the UGDSB, and WCDSB trustee Sebastian Dal Bo.
Also as part of the event, Celenna Ciuro, Project Coordinator at Green Communities Canada, and STWDSTS General Manager Wendy Dobson made an exciting announcement about an active travel project that will be coming to Guelph. Dobson announced that a Walking School Bus (WSB) pilot program will launch in April 2019. The program that will allow neighbourhood kids to walk to school under the supervision of a paid “walking school bus driver.”
Walking School Buses are an innovative way for kids to get to and from school as a group. Students will walk to school with an adult supervisor who will be screened, trained, and managed by STWDSTS.
A Walking School Bus offers kids the opportunity to learn important pedestrian safety skills, decrease the number of cars dropping of kids at school each day, thereby reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality around schools, and increases levels of physical activity.
The first Walking School Buses will be tested this spring in a few Guelph neighbourhoods as part of the pilot program.
The project was made possible by an Ontario Active School Travel grant awarded to ASRTS. The grant is funded by the Ministry of Education and managed by Green Communities Canada. The grant money was used to hire a School Travel Coordinator, based at STWDSTS, to support school travel planning and pilot the WSB.
Following the announcement, students, parents, staff and the special guests started their walk together, heading on to St. Patrick CS and Brant Avenue PS. Brant Avenue parents and kids joined in throughout the walk and were welcomed to school by the Brant Ave safety patrollers.
Congratulations to all UGDSB students, staff and families who participated in what was a wonderful Walk to School Day!