The Walking School Bus program encourages schoolchildren to walk to school in a safe and friendly environment. The ‘bus’ consists of parents who walk children to school along a predetermined route to and from school. Through participating in the program, children are able to engage in regular physical activity, helping to reduce the looming health issues of childhood obesity.
Walking is also critical to revitalising our suburbs and encouraging a culture of walking will improve our urban sustainability, through reducing car dependence, traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions.
The Walking School Bus program, which is principally funded by local councils (with some assistance from VicHealth), was initially revoked by Maroondah City Council in 2005 before having its funding reinstated in 2006 amid a successful community campaign and the support of councillors such as myself and Jo-anne Taylor.
Today’s function provided an opportunity to thank the teachers, parents and council officers who are involved in the program. Maroondah Council will continue its commitment to the Walking School Bus program with funding being secured for 2008. This ongoing funding will provide support for the thirteen schools that are involved in the program.
While cost shifting has occurred with the Walking School Bus program (which was initially jointly funded between VicHealth and councils), it is imperative that our children do not become the target of cheap political point scoring between different levels of government. The Walking School Bus program provides a number of benefits and its continuation is definitely warranted.