The new Walking School Bus program has launched at the Orthman Community YMCA, and the Y would like to encourage more students to participate in this free program.
“It’s been a great way to get kids to the Y, hanging out in the Snack Shack, being physically active and building relationships,” YMCA CEO Riley Gruntorad said.
The “Walking School Bus” is a group of students walking (instead of riding) together. Instead of being led by a bus driver, the walking school bus is led by local role models – members of the LHS National Honor Society.
The honor society students wear bright neon vests for safety. Gruntorad thanked T.L. Sund Construction for donating the vests.
Gruntorad said the high school students have been a great help with the program, and they have enough volunteers to add more elementary students to the “bus.”
The Walking School Bus is available from Pershing and Bryan elementary schools for children ages 10 and older. The program began Sept. 9, and six children are currently participating (five from Bryan and one from Pershing).
“I like that they bring us to the Y, and we have lots of fun doing it,” participant Kaden Barkmeier said.
“I like being part of the Walking School Bus, and I have fun with my friends at the Y,” Jesse Draskovic said.
Parents have peace of mind knowing that their children are getting safely to the YMCA, and students have fun walking with friends and being active at the YMCA.
An added benefit is that students learn about pedestrian safety and gain independence as they walk with friends and mentors.
The Walking School Bus leaves Pershing and Bryan at 3:45 p.m. each school day, and attendance is taken. The program is offered rain, sleet, snow or shine unless conditions are unsafe.
The Walking School Bus program is free, but participants must be YMCA members. Parents can stop by the YMCA to register for a youth or family membership and to sign up for the program.
The YMCA is dedicated to strengthening the community through programs focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. For more information about the Y, visit www.orthmanymca.org.