- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - It was a bus without walls, windows, seats or even wheels.

The “walking school bus” at Christenberry Elementary School is powered by students as well as teacher and parent volunteers, all clad in orange safety vests, who walk to their homes together.

And while the goals of the walking bus are largely safety and good health, school leaders said it’s also an opportunity for students to make friends and learn about their neighborhoods. Plus, they said it’s fun.

As the school day ends, the teacher and parent volunteers and students gather to split into two routes for the walk home. The walking school bus runs no matter the weather - it just adds umbrellas and cold weather gear as needed.

And the daily walk is something to look forward to at the end of the school day, said fourth-grade teachers Marianne Benson and Patti Tipton, who led the students on one of the walking routes.

They said it’s good exercise and an opportunity to get to know students outside the classroom.

Although the walking school bus has been at Christenberry since 2014, May 11 was declared “walking school bus celebration day” with proclamations from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.

District leaders and organizers of the program visited the school to see the walking buses in action.

The celebration brings awareness and builds momentum to grow the initiative, said Stephanie Welch, vice president of operations at the Great Schools Partnership.

The walking school bus is an initiative of the Knoxville-Knox County Safe Routes to School Partnership and is led by the Knox County Health Department.

It’s at four schools in the district, including Christenberry.

And the walking school bus has “allowed us to ensure all of our children get home safely every day,” said Christenberry Principal Melissa Johnson.

She said students who live within a mile radius of the school either walk or their parents take them to and from school.

So the two walking bus routes add a layer of safety for the students who walk home, Johnson said.

She said parents are happy that their kids are supervised as they leave the school and the teacher and parent volunteers make sure the students go directly home instead of going somewhere else or getting in “scuffles” or getting lost.

Growing up, Welch said she and others didn’t think of walking or biking to and from school or a friend’s house as exercise. She said it was just fun and a way to get from place to place.

But walking and biking is exercise, she said, and added that exercise helps students improve their learning and decrease stress.

Tipton said she became excited as soon as she heard about the idea, and she and Benson have volunteered since the start.

“It’s something new and different,” Tipton said.

___

Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide