I used to love riding the school bus. I would get to visit with my friends, make up songs and chat about the day. I never thought about emissions or the pollution from the big yellow bus. I recently read that more children will be walking to school this year because of school districts cutting their bus funding and routes. I’m thinking, this isn’t such a bad thing. With so many children overweight, lack of fitness programs and recess time in school, a good walk to and from school can’t hurt. Then, I think of safety and the number of children walking alone on unsafe streets because of the society we live in and I worry. It seems like a no-win situation.

Healthy Child Healthy World recently wrote that 24 million children depend on school buses to get to and from school. That is a lot of children, gas, emissions and money.  Healthy Child Healthy World makes some great points on how unhealthy old diesal buses are for the environment.  I’m still noticing a lot of old diesal buses but I suppose rotating new buses into a school system is not a cheap effort.  It’s good to know that the EPA has a Clean Bus USA campagin going and schools and states are starting to renovate buses, encourage unecessary idiling of the engines and promoting upgrades. It means were on the path to making school buses healthier for our children and the environement.

There are other ways to green up our transportation to and from school if your child does not ride a bus. Many parents drive their children to school but if parents could arrange for a carpool, fewer cars would be on the road.  There is the International Walk to School in the USA effort underway. This effort, is fabulous and if more parents would support the effort there could very well be less dependence on bus transportation.  My biggest concern is a safe route and how will children be looked after on their walk to and from school but the campaign has a safe route website for parents to find out what route is safe, how to get involved in planning a safe route and what each state is doing.

The official kickoff and walk or bike to school day is October 8, 2008!  Schools, parents, P.T.O’s and entire communities should get behind this effort and support children walking and biking to school year around. Find out more by visiting International Walk to School in the USA and get involved. All the necessary information, paperwork and support is there for you. With our children having less activity in school, more medical and weight problems there is a need for this. Some fresh air to and from school would do everyone some good, including our air quality!  It would help the school systems that are having budget issues with bus transportation, fewer parents would have to drive and car pool which means a savings on gas money. Everyone could benefit from children walking and riding their bikes to school.

What do you have to lose?


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