With great success and thanks to all the participants, Maine Safe Routes to School Program staff convened the nationally-recognized Walking School Bus Program Workshop for the Portland Public Schools on November 6th – and a regional version of the workshop in Augusta for interested communities from across the state on November 7th. These dynamic workshops, delivered by the PedNet Coalition, over-viewed how daily Walking School Bus programs work best, addressed liability and safety issues, outlined tasks and timelines for getting a program started – including marketing, demonstrated how to do a walking audit for prospective routes, and offered practice with planning routes (as seen in the photo above).
In Portland, the workshop was an essential component for jump-starting the pilot Portland Walking School Bus Program – the first of its kind in the state, and likely in Northern New England. Through this program, local volunteers and Maine Safe Routes to School staff will organize daily walking school buses at four elementary schools over an 18 month period. Over twenty people attended the workshop, including the new Walking School Bus Program Coordinator, Portland Schools administrators and staff, City of Portland law enforcement, engineering, and public health staff, Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) and representatives from parent-teacher organizations.
Registration for the Augusta workshop maxed out with fifteen people from several Maine counties, representing various constituencies – including school transportation directors, school safety officers and bus drivers, physical education teachers, parent-teacher organizations, and public health staff (see some of the participants on the Walking Audit below).
All workshop participants greatly enhanced each day by engaging fully and sharing their experiences of working on safe and active transportation options for students in Maine! They also expressed interest in returning to their communities to begin to plan (or further enhance) their local walking school bus program. As they move forward, they will be able to take advantage of continuing technical assistance from the PedNet Coalition, as well as from our local Maine SRTS program. If you have questions about the workshops, and/or would like to discuss possibilities for your community, please contact Darcy Whittemore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-4511.