MANILA, Philippines - More people get hurt while walking on streets, compared to riding in cars and other vehicles, according to a recent report by the Department of Health. Nearly forty percent of those injured are children aged 19 and below.
This is why Safe Kids Philippines introduced the “Walking School Bus” project this October, to mark the International Walk to School month.
The concept is simple – a parent or adult volunteer acts as a school bus driver and brings children to and from school, but minus the bus.
Safe Kids Philippines Executive Director Marte Perez said, “ There are 22 million kids in the country who walk to school daily. That’s 22 million chances of getting hurt on the road. Our goal is to get the community together to make the school journey safer for our children.”
Perez said having an adult walk the children to school will ensure their safety as young children do not have the skills needed to be safe in traffic. She added that only one out of every four children has knowledge on road safety.
The Walking School Bus is already being done by parents at the Baclaran Elementary School. “We already have 38 parents who are doing this on rotation. They follow a schedule, whereby, on particular days of the week, a parent is designated to pick up the students in the neighborhood and walk them to school.”
Perez said Safe Kids is hoping that the project will be endorsed by the Department of Education, adding that “the Walking School Bus project is already being done in over 40 countries worldwide. Here, we are hoping other communities would adopt this.”
Apart from ensuring the safety of children, Perez said there’s an added benefit. “The parents have also bonded. And because they take turns, it also leaves them with more time to do other things such as household chores.”
Safe Kids Philippines has also partnered with other agencies and companies like FedEx to promote road safety. Together, they launched the Walk This Way Road Safety Campaign, where they teach children important road safety information such as how to read traffic signs as well as the Road Safety Parks, which are interactive settings that simulate actual road conditions.