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Walking School Buses Set To Take Off

Walking School Buses will be launched at several Christchurch schools on Friday 1 September, the first day of spring.

This is part of a research project between the Christchurch City Council and Pinnacle Research Ltd, Wellington, to study the effectiveness of encouraging more children to walk to school.

Four primary schools - Gilberthorpe, Wairakei, Beckenham and Paparoa Street - will be taking part:

A "Walking School Bus" is when a group of families organise themselves on a roster to take turns at walking their children to school. The "bus" aims to encourage safe, supervised and active travel to school, promoting road safety and reducing congestion on streets around schools. The Council is assisting them with a support kit that includes safety sashes and drink bottles.

Parents at Paparoa Street Primary School have decided to form nine "Walking School Buses" of various sizes. Some will operate every day of the week; others just for a couple of days. To recognise their great efforts, Green MP and Co-Leader, Rod Donald, will act as the inaugural "co-driver" for one of the buses starting on 1 September.

(Rod Donald will be leaving with the start of the "bus" at the Knowles Street alleyway at 8.25am. The alleyway is opposite Malvern Park, between Innes Road and Knowles Street).

It is hoped to develop a process from the research project that can be applied to school communities, with the Council acting in a facilitatory role. Although several Christchurch schools operate Walking School Buses this is the first time the concept has been part of an investigation project.

An Auckland school has a large Walking School Bus but Christchurch would hold the record for most WSBs at a single school.

Paparoa Street has nine WSBs. Christchurch has also the most schools - five - involved with WSBs.

The City Council's Safe Routes To School Co-ordinator, Paul Cottam, says he encourages WSBs to be small (three to five families each) and to have fun and be flexible.

"Interest is starting to grow as word gets around about the Walking School Bus and people recognise their benefits," he says.

The Council's role is to support and encourage safe and active travel to school by advice, facilitating school communities. Mr. Cottam issues support kids for the "buses."

Further information: Paul Cottam, Safe Routes To School Coordinator: 371 1299 and Lynette Garrett, teacher, Paparoa St School: 352 8160.

Sam Fisher Corporate Communication Co-ordinator Christchurch City Council 03 371-1762 025 229 3552

Christchurch City Council http://www.ccc.govt.nz


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