I just learned about a new app that’s geared towards helping parents coordinate students from the same school and neighborhood walks to and from school.
The idea behind the app is for parents to find other children and parents in their neighborhood that go to the same school, and coordinate a “walking school bus” to and from school. Parents volunteer to walk with the students to make sure they arrive at school and then back home safely. Parents can also receive a text when their student has arrived safely at school!
One of the moms that participated in the beta program of the app said that one of her challenges with coordinating a walking group before the app was the multiple texts she had to send each morning trying to coordinate when to leave, which parent is walking with the students that morning, and other little annoyances. With the app, there is in-app messaging, which eliminated the need for multiple texts each morning. Simply pull up the app, check the messages, and send your child on their way.
She also shared a story about the kids getting to know a little bit about Utah government on their way to school. One of the state legislators is on their same walking route, and would chat with the kids while walking about things that are going on in local government. What a great way to get out and get to know your neighbors!
What about safety and privacy?
This was my first concern when I heard about the app. Because you have to log in with a username and password, the only people that can see your messages and location are other parents within your group. When you sign up, you enter your address, then choose your school district and school. From there you can select a group, or create a group if there isn’t already one.
Use the app and win prizes!
By using the UDOT Walking School Bus app to safely walk and bike to and from school, you can win prizes (donated from sponsors). This includes an overnight stay and breakfast for parents at the Blue Boar Inn in Midway; bikes, scooters and helmets for students, and breakfast with the Utah Jazz Bear for the winning WSB group along with $500 for their school/PTA's safe walking and biking programs.
For each completed walk (or bike) to/or from school from March 16 to April 30, 2015, each parent and/or student will automatically receive one contest entry.