Laurelwood Public School has implemented a new before-school walking program aimed to reduce traffic around the school and promote physical activity.

The Walking School Bus, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, is an organized group of students who live in the same area and walk to school together. Under the supervision of an adult volunteer, like a regular school bus, the Walking School Bus follows a planned and safe route with scheduled stops.

Rebecca Bearinger Fay, vice-principal of Laurelwood PS, hopes this one route, one morning a week, will inspire their broader school community.

“This initiative supports our values and priorities as a school,” explains Bearinger Fay. “We believe in being active, dressing for the weather, and caring for the environment. It also helps address some of our concerns with the culture of driving students to school.”

Vehicle congestion has been an ongoing concern for the school’s administration, and conversations around safety, in connection to vehicle traffic, have been part of School Council meetings. Because many of their students live within walking distance, they hope families see this new program as a safe option, one that provides peace of mind that their child will get to school safely.

Volunteers, staff and students walk along a side street towards the school as part of the Walking School Bus.

Walking is an excellent source of exercise and a great way for students to meet friends. “We believe that walking is good for our bodies and minds, as well as our school culture and our planet,” says Bearinger Fay.

Hazel, a Laurelwood PS student, adds she gets time to enjoy the environment around her. “I like seeing nature, like flowers, trees and nice skies,” she says.

“I like walking and seeing decorations at neighbours’ homes throughout the year, and walking and biking to school with my friends and family. It’s fun,” Anneliese, another Walking School Bus participant, shares.

Laurelwood PS has set out a few goals for their walk to school plan: more mornings, more routes, less parking lot traffic.

“We have identified three more potential routes we would like to start,” says Bearinger Fay. ” We are excited to explore what those options look like, what it feels like to walk in all kinds of weather, and have walking become a norm for our community.”

All they need are the volunteers and student walkers.

Group picture of the inaugural Walking School Bus, including WRPS police officer and WRDSB trustee, Kathleen Woodcock.

“I hope more students and parents sign up for the walking school bus. It’s important,” says Anneliese. “Thanks for making a walking school bus.”

Active transportation, such as the Walking School Bus, not only protects our environment but reinforces the safety and well-being of our students. Thank you to all the volunteers, staff and families who participate in this program! We can’t wait to see it grow.

Interested in helping the school expand its morning walking program? Contact

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