Walk To School Week 2017

17 years of success for Silsden walking bus

This week is Walk to School Week, a national campaign to get children and their parents active. The added advantage of walking to school is that it cuts down the number of cars near a school at the start and end of day. The reduction in the number of cars reduces the amount of air pollution around a school at this peak times as well as making it safer for children, particularly if they are crossing a road.

James Brass, Environment Officer for Bradford Council, met with Cath Smith, a Teaching Assistant at Aire View Infant School, to find out how their walking bus helps families in Silsden.

  • How long have you been doing the Walking Bus?
    • 17 years
  • Why did you set one up?
    • Reluctantly at first – it was a big responsibility! The Road Safety Team came to give a talk and inspired the school to set one up. I ended up leading the first walks and never looked back.
  • How many children join in and has it grown?
    • We began at Waterside (on the east side of Silsden) with around 12 children with one parent supporting. Later on, we started a Walking Bus on the west side of Silsden. Sadly we have just one Walking Bus after one of our friends, a leader passed away.
  • How do you organise the walk?
    • We set up local ‘bus stops’ picking children up at different points along the route. Parents receive a letter and sign up if they want to join with the times and days they want. When we receive new children to the school they get information about the Walking Bus at induction evenings.
  • How have you managed to keep it going?
    • Dedication and I enjoy it!
  • What do you think are the main benefits?
    • Road safety is the first priority. You’re in touch with different people. It’s quite visible in the community and people respond to you. We have supported a wide range of families. It helps children to gain their independence. including one boy with autism who has got used to the Walking Bus coming everyday. The walking bus also allows mums to get to work and saves parents time.
  • How about the children, do they enjoy it?
    • Yes, they enjoy it and we are getting new recruits. Sometimes we sing songs or do some of the maths problems from class. If the kids are quieter, we just talk. When they get a bit older they start to walk at the front and gain confidence. At one time we were helping to train guide dogs because they needed to learn how to walk with children and adults. So the children got used to walking with dogs too.
  • Have you got any advice for others setting up a walking bus?
    • Get it set up, don’t let the barriers stop you, you will enjoy it. Once it’s set up it runs itself. There’s chance to socialise and the school is open for parents to come have a cup of tea. You need some commitment and it helps being a school employee.
  • Is there anything schools can do to help parents and families set up a walking bus?
    • Contact the road safety team to get help.
  • Have there been any other activities with the Walking Bus?
    • The kids did some running to school events where they raised money for charity. They also got to try a police speed camera and were involved in setting up the 20 mile an hour zone and having a Pelican Crossing built. We did a winter campaign last year giving out bright tabards as part of a ‘be seen’ campaign.
  • Are there any other considerations if you are planning to set up a Walking Bus?
    • It’s a big responsibility, and you need to have paediatric trained.

4 thoughts on “17 years of success for Silsden walking bus

  1. What a difference people can make if they really want to. We need more members of the community like this, to teach our young people by example. Well done, Mrs Smith!

  2. Thank you to Cath Smith from all your colleagues for the wonderful support and guidance you and Mrs Tilley have given to children over the last 17 years in keeping them safe! You are an inspiration and your dedication and commitment to supporting young people is exemplary! Thank you.

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