April 6thÂ marked the beginning of a new tradition at Willow Creek Academy, a public charter school in Sausalito:Â A single walking school bus for the whole school, starting at the fire station in the city’s downtown. From there, the group walked for 35 minutes to the school, located on Nevada Street and, at the end, everyone was so happy that they are walking together every WednesdayÂ till the end of the school year. â€śWhen the ‘bus’ passed Fred’s, it grew to 14 kids (a few on scooters), about six parent volunteers, and one dog. The kids had an awesome time and were very excited to walk as a structured group. We ended up at the Walk n RollÂ Wednesday table at the Willow Creek MPR for snacks and treats,â€ť said Michael Steiner, the parent volunteer who organized the brand-new walking school bus. For this walking school bus to be successful, Michael Steiner created maps of the route and made sure to get plenty of publicity, weeks in advance, by posting the maps and information about the project in Willow Creekâ€™s Friday PostÂ which goes out to all the parents each week.Â Â
To sustain the weekly Walking School Bus, parents now receive an automated e-blast notification from the school every Tuesday night.Â Â Michael and his son, Noah, consistently arrive at the Fire Station every Wednesday morning with a warm smile and snacks for the strollers. ForÂ GracieÂ Matejka, SR2S’s team leader at Willow Creek, â€śOne of the best things about the walking school bus event is the chance it gives both parents and kids alike to be present in the moment on the way to school. No screens â€“just walking alongside other kids, breathing fresh air, talking to friends or just enjoying the quiet. What could be better?â€ť
Walking School Buses are a convenient and safe way to get kids to school. Parents can take turns leading groups, and kids are more visible when walking together.Â There is a sense of community spirit with families walking together and that reinforces the positive feelings associated with walking to school.
In Willow Creekâ€™s 1st grader Audreyâ€™s own words, “I like to meet my friends for the Walking School Bus. It’s fun to walk with a group in the morning. I wish we did it every day!”
One day, Audrey, when you are older, you can make that wish come true.Â Â In the meanwhile, Michael Steiner and his son will walk by your side, creating memories of the simple joy of strolling along to school with friends.