The long, living bus
“Good morning, Walking School Bus!” alerts indoor Moulden Primary School students to leave home and join their schoolmates in the pedestrian ‘bus’.
Most children are waiting outside for the daily bus, ready for a more than three-kilometre walk that loops from and to the school.
Principal Ali Brady said the Walking School Bus, which boosts a sense of collective safety and individual and community welfare among students, also aims to promote kindness and mutual care giving.
“We’re targeting younger students who cannot independently get themselves to school,” she said. “Sometimes it is not safe or easy for them to walk, or ride, or use a scooter.
“For the walkers it’s a chance to chat to other children, and their teachers, and to listen to Bluetoothed music.
“The long column of children draws lots of smiles from people, who also wave and toot their horns. The students all stick together, and hold hands to cross busy roads.”
Mrs Brady said the bus showed parents that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted and students were to reattend school.
She said there is no homebound bus because leaving school is a group event.
“Students are ready to leave school at the same time in the afternoon,” she said. “But in the morning a child may walk to school and not see anyone they know. It‘s important to chip in and keep our students safe.
“The children who join our bus absolutely love it. We have one family who drive their daughter to our route just so she can walk with us. They could have driven her to school.”
Some students are delighted by the experience, but others are not favourably impressed.
“It is so fun, and I get to make new friends and sometimes I get to choose the music,” said Year 3 student Shannon Porter.
“You get exercise, and get to be fit,” said Year 4 student Bella Redpath.
But Transition student Ashanti-Lee has a contrary view. “It hurts my foots (sic) and I want Mrs Brady to buy a real bus.”