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Let's Teach Our Children that Every Journey Doesn't Begin in a Car

By Kirsten Bergstrom

CoolMom Co-founder and Board Member through September 2011

Kirsten wearing Walking School Bus vest and walking with kids

“Look!” my five year old exclaimed, “Someone hung Christmas ornaments up!” His smile was broad and his eyes were bright as he bent down to gaze at at the shiny red and gold ball that adorned the tiny Douglas Fir tree.  This magical surprise happened on our walk to school.  After walking  the kids to school, I returned home to pick up my bike and rode to the post office. The air was a brisk 35 degrees yet I felt less like a tired 41 year old mother of two and more like a gleeful 10 year old out exploring the neighborhood. No gym membership required.

Hemingway described Paris as a moveable feast, a joy that remains with you. I often feel that my family's daily transportation choices offer similar benefits. Walking, biking, and electing to join others in using mass transit transcend the obvious environmental benefits. Our choices dictate the joy that remains with us, and the impact we bequeath to our children and to our planet.

Choices matter. Let's choose to leave the car at home.

Why Take Action:

When you elect to walk, bike, and use mass transit - and promote these options in your communities - you will enjoy the following benefits:

    • Fun!
    • Better health and better air quality
    • Reduced greenhouse gas pollution
    • Strong community bonds
    • Financial savings
    • Less traffic
    • Improved safety

Walking school bus vest

How to get it done:

Even as you strive to drive less, seek a healthy balance that works for your family. Adopt the Slow Life and choose quality over quantity. Less stuff and fewer activities equal harmonious families.

Transportation choices go beyond choosing how to get from point A to Point B. Wise choices entail choosing to live close to work, schools, and/or activities. Choosing wisely means supporting smart community development (or the lack thereof!) that refrains from car dependency. When obstacles stall our progress, such as unsafe school crossings, we can advocate for improvements in our communities.

    • Walk, bike, or use mass transit to the places you go most often (work and school)
    • Do less, consider the number of activities.
    • Start a Walking School Bus logo
    • Elect to live close to work and school and support neighborhood schools.

Making the change with kids:

Lead the way. Our actions inform our children's choices. Demonstrate healthy transportation choices much like you would teach healthy food choices.

  • Dress for the weather.
  • Plan ahead and try a new bus or bike route out by yourself first.
  • Review safety rules with kids


other helpful tips and ideas

Grist article: Why public transportation is good for kids

Lawton Elementary School, Walking School Bus,  KOMO TV story here

How Magnolia Got Their Walking School Bus

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