Starting school comes with plenty of ‘firsts’ and one that’s always top of mind for many students — and parents — is riding the school bus.
To make this first lesson a fearless one, Regina Catholic and Regina Public Schools teamed up to offer the First Ride program, which gets kids acquainted with transportation safety.
Elena Chase, a transportation officer with the Regina Catholic School Division, is the main instructor. She said the program was just a pilot project last year, and it was so well-received that they decided to bring it back with the public school division.
Chase added that the program isn’t just for new kindergarteners, but also for older students, who may have never rode the bus before.
Before boarding, students learned where the bus “danger zones” are and how to evacuate the vehicle, in case of an emergency. While on their first ride, they were taught proper bus behaviour, like making sure to remain seated and refraining from yelling — all by Chase setting the “wrong example” multiple times.
“I showed the kids how to be the (bus) driver’s worst nightmare and why you don’t want to do that,” she said. “I did everything from sit on the seats, to bang on the roof, to jump and hop over seats. Then, the bus driver was able to demonstrate to the families and the kids what would happen if (students) acted like that.”
The youngsters also learned how to safely cross the street with the help of a safety patroller.
As a father, Michael Knight said the program makes him feel better about sending his first child off to kindergarten in a couple weeks.
“It gives her an opportunity, in a pretty safe environment and with her parents there, to learn about how to act and learn what the right things to do on the school bus are — instead of learning on the fly from other kids once she gets to school,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Kim Gerenscer said he’s glad he brought his daughter because it helped strengthen his confidence in the school system.
“I feel good that she’s getting the same message that we’ve been reinforcing, as parents, from somebody else — to really drive home the importance of being careful and being safe,” he said.
The school divisions are holding a total of four First Ride sessions before the school year starts.