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Walking School Bus: Nurturing Safety, Attendance, and Community Bonds

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walking school bus, group of volunteers

Walking School Bus

Donald is a recent addition to the Columbus community. He is an assistant biomedical ethics and medical humanity professor at Mercer School of Medicine. Being new to the community, he was motivated to become actively involved and get to know his new surroundings better. Mercer and United Way have a strong relationship, so he explored ways to connect with the community through United Way.

Inspired by the impactful Walking School Bus initiative, Donald found a way to make a real difference. Drawing from his own childhood experiences navigating the challenges of walking to school, he empathized with students encountering similar obstacles. As he volunteered, he also became a vocal advocate for the safety and well-being of students during their daily commute. Along with other volunteers, they ensured students had a safe walk to school, cultivating trust and connection with the neighborhood.

But Donald’s involvement extended beyond the walking route. Recognizing challenges interfering with student safety, he engaged with school and city officials, championing crucial infrastructure improvements along the route. His advocacy prompted swift action, resulting in the installation of streetlights and speed bumps, further strengthening safety measures and accessibility.


The progress made this year along the route is a testament to the power of community advocacy and collaborative action. Installing street lights and speed bumps has significantly improved the safety of the route, effectively addressing concerns that previously impacted student attendance and the community’s overall well-being. This achievement highlights the potential for positive change when communities unite to address educational equity.

Educational equity is not just about providing resources within school walls; it encompasses the broader environment that impacts a child’s ability to learn. In areas with high crime rates, lack of street lighting, and other health concerns, school attendance rates often suffer. Recognizing these challenges, the United Way’s Community Schools United team, alongside schools and dedicated volunteers, implemented a Walking School Bus initiative.

The Concept

The concept is simple yet impactful: community members volunteer their time to accompany students on their walk to school, ensuring they arrive safely and ready to learn. This initiative addresses safety concerns and fosters a sense of belonging and community support.

By providing a physical presence in the community during the early hours of the day, the Walking School Bus program has ensured safe passage for students and fostered lasting relationships. Volunteers have become familiar faces, trusted by students and families, creating a network of support that extends beyond the school gates.

Positive Outcomes

Regular attendance is a crucial indicator of academic success. Students who attend school consistently have better chances of performing well academically. It’s challenging to learn when you’re not present in class. The Walking School Bus initiative addresses this challenge by ensuring students arrive at school safely and on time, which leads to improved attendance rates and academic performance.

The additional positive outcomes of this initiative are far-reaching. Families feel confident sending their children to school, knowing they will be accompanied on their journey. Students, in turn, feel safe and eager to walk with their friends, resulting in improved attendance rates. Beyond the numbers, the Walking School Bus has nurtured a culture of care and belonging within the community, laying the foundation for long-term educational success.

Moreover, the Walking School Bus serves as a model for addressing educational equity issues in other communities facing similar challenges. By leveraging community resources and fostering collaboration, tangible solutions can be implemented to ensure every child has access to a safe and supportive learning environment.

United For Bright Futures

The Walking School Bus initiative exemplifies the impactful collaboration facilitated by United Way’s Community Schools United team. Along with Donald, we continue to build upon this success, we remain united in our dedication to fostering safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments for all. Together, we can create lasting positive change that uplifts and empowers generations to come. Together, we are UNITED FOR working towards a brighter future for our children and community.

For more information about United Way’s Community Schools United strategy, click here.

To volunteer with United Way, click here.

To assist the writing process, these Grammarly AI prompts were used:

Prompts created by Grammarly – “Suggest cuts” – “Identify any gaps” – “Give me ideas for improvement”

Prompts I wrote – “find repetitive areas” – “find sentences with high reading levels”

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