Walking School Bus proves both fun and safe
When Talk/Read/Succeed! decided to sponsor a walking school bus at Springfield Housing Authority’s Sullivan Apartments, the expectation was for a modest start-up.
But when 65 children showed up at the recent morning en masse walk to the nearby Boland Elementary School, organizers were in for a pleasant surprise.
“We had a great turnout,” said T/R/S! outreach coordinator Lynne Cimino. “The vast majority of the Boland population that lives at Sullivan came out. We had children, parents, teachers, even the principal at Boland.”
The guided troupe of children is considered by educators and parents alike as a safe, child-friendly way to get young boys and girls to school. And it’s a perfect match for T/R/S!, a collaboration of two SHA developments, two city schools and two dozen local groups and agencies, with a family approach and a common goal of early literacy.
Sullivan and Robinson Gardens Apartments participate in T/R/S!, as do their feeder schools, Boland and Dorman Elementary.
The walking school bus continues to draw many children each weekday morning, when the quarter-mile trek begins out of Nursery Street and up Stafford Street to the school that serves grades pre-kindergarten through five.
Among the walkers on opening day were Cimino, fellow outreach coordinator Zenaida Burgos, SHA Resident Services Director Pamela Wells, Boland Principal Lisa Bakowksi, School Department Administrator Thomas O’Brien, who is a former Boland principal, and many children and parents.
SHA Executive Director William H. Abrashkin praised the walking school bus as a great idea with well-known benefits to children and families.
Besides getting children to school safely and on time, the walking school bus, provides morning exercise, reduces the potential for bullying and fighting, keeps absenteeism to a minimum, promotes community engagement and enables children to have fun walking with their friends and neighbors.
“When we think about building relationships between families and school, what better way to bridge the gap- this is a win-win experience for both,” Abrashkin said.
Children got yogurt and energy bars on the first day, which was a brisk fall morning. In the future, hot chocolate may be on tap.