Choosing a Program Structure

Trumansburg Elementary School, Trumansburg, NY

Walking school buses vary in level of formality and structure, but all can help more children walk or bicycle to school safely. The following are examples of walking school buses in action in communities around the country:

  • Families in a neighborhood agree to walk to school together once a week.
  • Adult walk leaders pick up children at designated group meeting spots on a route to school.
  • Families meet at a designated location and walk together to school.
  • Trained adult volunteers stop at each participating child’s home on a planned route to school.

The structure of the walking school bus will depend on the community’s interests, goals and available resources. An informal approach for starting simple is ideal for quick start-up with minimal organization. For reaching out to more children, a more structured approach may be a better fit. Both can help children walk safely to school.

When deciding on program structure, consider:

  • Amount of time available to coordinate the program.
  • Level of interest among students and parents.
  • Number of volunteers available.
  • Desired impact, such as whether the goal is to reach a neighborhood or an entire school.
  • Resources available (if any) to fund the program for items such as recruiting material, safety materials and incentives for students and volunteers.

All walking school buses, regardless of size or formality, need a safe route and adequate adult supervision and participants should have an understanding of pedestrian safety behaviors.