Not long after the sun came up over the Rodgers Forge neighborhood on Wednesday, resident Will Morton and his kids, Elliott, 9, and Kate, 7, pulled up in their “school bus” to an intersection.
Their bus doesn’t have big wheels or hard plastic seats — just a paper sign, a couple of colored flags and your own two feet — but it has the same goal: Getting neighborhood kids to school safely.
“Grown-ups can participate, they can join in and walk along,” says Morton, who leads the route from the intersection of Stanmore and Lanark roads. “Or they can send their kids out to people like me who will have flags and posters and can shepherd their kids on the way to school.”
Morton is leading the charge with the Walking School Bus after two successful years participating in International Walk to School Day, hosted by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
Many of the neighborhoods surrounding Rodgers Forge Elementary and nearby Dumbarton Middle School are walking distance to the schools, and parents often walk their kids anyway.
“That way, maybe if you have a Wednesday meeting or you have to get to work a little early, you don’t have to be the one walking your kid to school every single time,” Morton said.
There are five routes aside from Morton’s, which are laid out on a map. Coming from the north is Stevenson Lane and Yorktowne Drive. From the south is Murdock Road and Bellona Avenue, and three routes that start at Overbrook Road: Pinehurst, Dorking and Heathfield roads. None is longer than about six-tenths of a mile.
Morton’s “bus” started with only him and his children, but by the time they made it to school there were a dozen people — led by Kate Morton, who proudly held up the “Walking School Bus” sign.
As the other bus “drivers” and their groups converged in front of the school, Morton collected their signs, flags and stories.
“The school buses need seatbelts!” joke parent Dan Hochrein.