No time to exercise? Why not organise a Running School Bus at your school?
It’s national Walk Safely to School Day today, so the kids and I decided to run to school, and we picked up a few of their friends along the way.
For a simple version of a Running School Bus, here’s what we did.
- Organised for the kids to take their homework to school yesterday – yes, the thought of getting to run to school actually encouraged them to have their homework finished by Thursday, a whole day early
- Organised a lunch order from the canteen-another good carrot
- This meant we didn’t have to carry much with us this morning
- Emailed parents of children in my kids’ classes yesterday, with where we were leaving from, the route we were taking, and approximately what time we’d be at certain land marks
- Set out a few simple safety rules for the kids to follow
It was that simple.
This morning we had pockets full of mandarins, handballs and lunch orders, and I had to carry some soccer boots unexpectedly. I wasn’t really expecting to pick up anyone along the way as my email went out so last minute, but we ended up having seven kids running to school. They all loved it. I loved it, and I got in an 9km run before work. (and before you gasp at how mean I was making the children run that far, it was only 4.5k for them – I had to run back as well. )
Starting a Running Bus at Your School
- My suggestion is to start off in a very informal manner, as I did today. You can always formalise it if interest grows
- Plan to have the bus one day a month to start with, then you can increase the frequency if there’s demand. You want to make running to school a cool and exciting thing to do. Not something your kids dread every Friday!
- Have a wet weather arrangement
- Organinse for your kids to have everything at school they will need on the day of the Running Bus. You want to carry as little as possible
Check list for things to leave at school the day before the Running Bus
- school bag
- lunch – order from the canteen
- recess and fruit break-pack an extra piece of fruit and/or muesli bar in their bag the day before the run, or stuff them in their pockets on the day. Muesli bars are another exciting thing about running to school for my kids-they rarely darken my door!
- any homework that’s due
- any sports gear needed for that day. Carrying a smelly old pair of soccer boots whilst you’re running isn’t great!
Ideally, you’ll have a bus driver and a “sweeper”. Someone at the front of the group and someone coming up behind the last kid. I managed on my own, but there were only seven sensible kids.
Set some simple rules for the kids to follow to keep them safe, and make sure the parents know it’s their responsibility to ensure the kids are aware of the rules. The rules I set out were:
- No roads to be crossed unless an adult is present. This means the faster kids either have to wait on the corner of any cross streets, or (my preference) they run back towards the group and loop around the last kid on the bus. That way you can keep track of them a bit better.
- No balls to be played with along the way – it’s too likely it will go on the road and they will chase after them.
- Leave room on the footpath for other people.
- Don’t exhaust the driver.
If the Running Bus becomes more formalised, and it’s promoted throughout the wider school community as a school activity, there will be lots of health and safety, duty of care and insurance issues to deal with, as well as working with children checks.
An official eight page Australian Government document has been put together by TravelSmart Australia, and can be found here. It’s covers every thing you could possibly want to know about organising a School Walking Bus, and would you believe it, the term School Walking Bus is actually trademarked?
Whatever happened to the good old days when pretty much everyone walked to school, with a good dose of running thrown in, and no parental supervision. Your mum asked the neighbour if their kids walked to school, the neighbour said yes, and they organised a time for you all to leave together!
If your kids love running, or you think they could if they were just given some expert encouragement, we’d love you to book them in for a FREE TRIAL at one of our sessions in Forestville, Frenchs Forest, or Lindfield.