Grant will help fund walking school bus initiative
Healthy Henry County Communities (HHCC) will begin working with the WACO Community School District to implement walking school bus programs and then expand the program to additional school districts over the next school year.
HHCC’s efforts are aided by a $16,355 grant it received last week from the Wellmark Foundation.
Since Wayland is already exploring ways to make walking safer in the community due to the loss of a school bus route in town, a walkability assessment will be performed to determine areas of most need.
Implementing walking school bus routes will help accommodate those children while ensuring they arrive safely by being accompanied by an adult. The more kids that walk to school the less vehicle traffic there will be at the intersection by the high school, which will further increase safety, HHCC leaders note.
A walking school bus is defined in simplistic terms as a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It can be informal with a few families taking turns walking their kids to school or a formal route with scheduled meeting points. Drop off points can be incorporated to include families who live in rural areas. Walking school bus programs address many of the safety concerns that parents have with allowing their children to walk to school while creating a fun way for kids to add more physical activity to their day.
After launching the program at WACO this spring, HHCC will talk to the other elementary schools in the county to determine which would be ready to start walking school bus programs in the fall, hoping to reach all four districts by the end of the grant. “With the community transformation grant we will already be working in these communities to help them become more walkable and bicycle-friendly. This program will create a synergy that allows us to reach all residents and maximize our resources,” stated Kelly Carr, HHCC coordinator.
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans and their communities. Through its 2012 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the foundation received 135 grant requests seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to Healthy Henry County Communities represents one of 10 competitively awarded grants to establish pilot efforts or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.
“The walking school bus project in Henry County is a great way to not only add exercise into the daily routine of students, but also increase safety en route to school,” says Matt McGarvey, director of The Wellmark Foundation. “We are pleased to offer this grant to Healthy Henry County Communities to help create a healthy school environment.”
HHCC is about people: volunteers, community leaders, educators and others working together to help build a stronger, safer, healthier community.Programming encompasses the entire age continuum and makes an impact on all segments of the community. This programming is driven by the commitment of local residents to create a positive, health environment for everyone in the community. Through collaboration and innovation, hundreds of people in Henry County have created, sustained and continue to grow the HHCC initiative.
For more information on the walking school bus project, contact Kelly Carr, (319) 385-6523, firstname.lastname@example.org.