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US walking school bus fights child obesity

Pilot programmes are being introduced in neighbourhoods around the USA to tackle the problem of childhood obesity.

The ‘walking bus’ schemes aim to get pupils to school in a secure manner and improve the attendance rates.

The walking bus is taking place in many US states, including Iowa and Rhode Island. An adult, usually a volunteer, walks with the students to and from school to build relationships with the children.

One school in Rhode Island was targeted by the state’s Family Service, as it was located in a neighbourhood that experienced extreme poverty, but was within a mile of school. As such, families would not be able to claim for free bus fares. The Family Service is planning on expanding the scheme next year as attendance rates have increased, with 11 out of 14 students now going to class on a regular basis.

The first school walking buses were in Columbia, Missouri, with 450 students from 13 schools all taking part. However, funding problems have meant that the scheme has been cancelled this year.

Robert Johnson of PedNet Coalition, a non-profit agency that supports alternative transit modes, said that cutting bus service routes and replacing them with a walking bus could save money in some districts.

Although the walking bus may be something that could be introduced to the UK, many school boards are already tackling the problem of child obesity with healthy tuckshop foods. Tyne and Wear is one of many regions that is taking part in such an initiative.

Posted by Susan
June 10, 2014
Schools

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