JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) – The Rock County Health Department wants to make the school commute safer and healthier through a Walking School Bus program.
The “Walking School Bus” consists of a school-approved, adult volunteer meeting students at a public location or meeting them near their homes on a walking route to and from their classes.
According to Rock County Public Health Strategist Christine Gunn, children in their communities need to be more active, make friends and form trusting relationships with adults that are not a parent or teacher. She said a walking school bus would improve the aforementioned issues facing the younger population.
”Having a trusted adult that you can rely on that’s outside of your normal network is also part of it. To feel like you have someone else that you can talk to,” Gunn said. She also said a volunteer walker could serve as a confidant.
She said the program could improve safety for kids before they reach crossing guard officials near school grounds.
”We’ve had some incidents in Rock County where unfortunately kids have been injured or killed from these types of accidents,” Gunn said. “So we really want to provide extra support so that it doesn’t happen again.”
The routes can be as close or far away as volunteers are willing to walk.
Janesville parent Bryce Gahdosik welcomed the idea of a walking school bus.
“I grew up by Mineral Point so I walked to school a lot and I think it’d be a pretty good idea to have a walking school bus,” he said. “More supervision, protection and somebody there rather than just a little kid walking to school back and forth.”
Grant applications are due by January 26 for Rock County schools interested in funding for this walk-to-school initiative. Five schools could receive up to $1,000.
Rock County Public Health is hosting an informational Zoom meeting for anyone interested in starting a walking school bus program in their community from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday. Email HearCoordinator@co.rock.wi.us to receive the virtual invitation.
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