Start Your Day the Active Way – The Walking School Bus

In 2011, the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health was wrapping up a 3 year grant focused on childhood obesity prevention among preschool children, which had seen great success.  However, the grant activities focused on young children and the Department was brainstorming ways to impact school-aged children in adopting healthy behaviors, such as physical activity.

Whether by divine intervention or a random wind of chance, a DVD arrived in the mail box of the Department’s Wellness Coordinator on the same day as the “brainstorming” session was scheduled.  The Coordinator popped in the DVD and a brief video highlighting a “Walking School Bus Program” based in Columbia, Missouri began to play.  The 5 minute video was all the inspiration needed to get the ball rolling for the Health Department.

After successfully applying and receiving Safe Routes to School Funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation in 2011, the Health Department helped two local school districts establish Walking School Bus Programs.  The program, which pairs adult volunteers with a neighborhood group of students, provides a safe and active way for children to travel to school. Together, the groups walk to school each morning, learn traffic safety skills, build friendships, and share stories from their day.  It’s a wonderful program that allows volunteers to give back to their community, provides a safe and active way for children to arrive to school, and gives parents a piece of mind knowing that their children are not only safe walking to school, but are building friendships for years to come.

Jump ahead to the current day, and our community has 4 Elementary Walking School Bus programs, operating every school day in the fall and spring, with over 25 volunteers and anywhere between 50-70 students.  Thanks to Safe Routes to School Funding, this program was able to get the jump start it needed and continues to be a community staple!

For more information on the Cerro Gordo County Walking School Bus Program, contact the Walking School Bus Coordinator, Kelli Huinker, at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health – 22 North Georgia Avenue Suite 300 – Mason City, Iowa 50401. Phone: 641-421-9312 Email: