My name is Ayesha. My kids, Aamena (9) and Muhammad (7) go to Johnsonville School. We love the outdoors. We're always walking, biking or hiking around Wellington. On sunny days, I always walk my kids to school and often bump into local school parents on our way. One day, a large group of parents and kids ended up walking together and I thought "why don't we do this every day"? Kids can mingle, socialise and form deeper bonds by walking together every day.
I took the initiative and started talking to parents. I chatted to them wherever I could find them, in-person, Facebook or Messenger! I collated basic information to make it easier for parents to decide. For example. what are safe meeting points, how many streets can we cover, parent volunteer availability and the number of children per day. I used Google Forms to collect data and feedback from parents. We collaborated to work out a timetable, pickup points and timings. And voila within two weeks, we were ready to go with close to 17 children and 7 parent volunteers. Our ex-Principal also provided us with high-vis vests for safety. I’m really grateful for all the local volunteers and lovely neighbourhood parents to make this happen. Thank you, Elizabeth, Catherine, Marion, Erica, Jacque and Rachel. I've been a 'bus driver' ever since!
Feedback from parents:
Jacque: "It’s helped me a lot especially with having to slow down at the end of my pregnancy. Kenzie loves going on the bus and is disappointed when it’s cancelled, it’s given her more independence while still keeping her safe".
Elizabeth: "I love how my kids can walk to school safely every day, even when I have to race off to work in the car."
Erica: "I love how much pride the girls have on the bus, the independence it gives them and the fantastic sense of community it provides!"
Marion: "I love the enthusiasm of the kids when meeting up with their 'bus friends' each morning. It has given my youngest walking to school and road crossing confidence and it has given me a golden 30 mins to myself before I have to leave for work!"
Check out the New Zealand Transport Agency Education Portal for all the resources you need for setting up your own walking school bus.