Walking School Bus
Much like the big yellow school bus, a Walking School Bus is a safe form of “transportation” to school! Students are chaperoned by an adult Leader and walk along a predesignated route to school, as people join them along the way!
Levels of active travel to school have fallen significantly among Canadian children in recent years, contributing to lower physical activity, poorer air equality and increased traffic dangers around schools.
The benefits of a Walking School Bus program are numerous and include:
- Increased physical activity for the children
- Enhanced parental and community engagement
- Improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduced traffic congestion in school zones
- Increased awareness/connection to geographic spaces
- Increased traffic safety awareness amongst students
The Walking School Bus program began in 2014 and is funded by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA). The Ottawa Safety Council hires, trains, and administers the Walking School Bus Leaders for the program.
There are currently 8 schools that have a Walking School Bus Program:
- Century Public School
- Connaught Public School
- Convent Glen Catholic Elementary School
- Elmdale Public School
- Robert Bateman Public Elementary School
- St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School
- Woodroffe Avenue Public Elementary School
- Queen Mary Street Public School
- Queen Elizabeth Public School
- Devonshire Public School
- R.E. Wilson Public School
- Viscount Alexander Public School
- Chapel Hill Catholic School
- Glen Ogilvie Public School (Coming September 2017!)
- Good Shepherd Catholic School (Coming September 2017!)
- Roch Carrier Public School (Coming September 2017!)
Registration is done either online or through the school. If your school is participating in the program, please talk to the school faculty to register in person or visit the OSTA website to register on-line.
OSTA works closely with schools to determine the need for and potential interest of a Walking School Bus program, as well as suggested routes. If you are interested in having a Walking School Bus Program for your school it is best to start by discussing the program with your Principal and/or Parent Council, who can contact OSTA.
All of our Walking School Bus Leaders are required to provide us with a clean Police Record Check for Vulnerable Sectors and three character references. All Walking School Bus Leaders undergo a thorough Screening Interview to determine their suitability for the position as well.
The Walking School Bus Leaders undergo in-depth classroom training that covers safe walking practices, important safety precautions, behaviour guidance techniques for working with children and emergency protocol and procedures. As well, all Walking School Bus Leaders must take Provincially-mandated training such as Bill 168- Violence and Harassment in the Workplace & Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities. Finally, new Walking School Bus Leaders walk the route backward every morning prior to traveling it with their student walkers – to determine any hazards that may need to be addressed.
The Program Manager regularly tags along with the Walking School Buses for performance evaluation and exercise!
If you are interested in becoming a Walking School Bus Leader please see our careers page.