Children travelling by one of Auckland’s highly popular Walking School Buses to attend the ‘School Day – LA Galaxy and Oceania Training’ at Mt Smart today got an exciting treat, as players from the Oceania All Stars team jumped aboard and participated as volunteers.
The Walking School Bus (WSB) is an award-winning active transport programme which has taught children (and their parents) the pleasures of walking to school again, increasing physical and mental health and taking a total of 1900 cars off Auckland’s congested roads at morning peak. There are currently 259 WSB routes operating throughout the region, involving over 4700 children and supported by over 2000 parent volunteers.
A special WSB route from Penrose Station to Mt Smart was organised for the school’s event in collaborative effort between the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), the Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council with the support of the Oceania Football Confederation. Over 300 children were ‘on-board’ with 20 adult volunteers in addition to the Oceania All Stars players.
Sue Kendall, ARTA’s Walking School Bus Coordinator said “It’s absolutely fantastic that the players took the time to participate in the Walking School Bus with the children and show just how fun it can be to get involved as a volunteer in the programme.
“It’s a great example to set parents, grandparents, friends and other relatives considering getting involved in the scheme, and obviously it is extremely exciting for the kids to meet some of their soccer heroes.
‘The WSB is a great programme as it gets children out in the fresh air and gives them a sense of independence although they are part of a team’
Players from the Oceania All Stars squad such as Christian Karembeu, Ivan Vicelich, Mark Bosnich and Edgar Davids volunteered to meet and walk with the children following the training session, which was aptly held on International Volunteer Day 2008.
Ms Kendall says volunteers are always being sought for the programme, particularly men to encourage male role models for the children.
To find out how to volunteer on a Walking School Bus route or how to set up a Walking School Bus in your school, please contact Sue Kendall on 09 815 2546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org