Archive for March, 2015

The Walking School Bus Meets the Portland Children’s Film Festival

Written for the Maine Walking School Bus Program.

WSB Film ShotLast Friday, the East End Community School’s (EECS) Walking School Bus Program teamed up with the Portland Children’s Film Festival for a showing of one of their films, On the Way to School – which tracks four groups of children in four far-flung locations as they each set off on impossibly long, arduous and sometimes life threatening journeys to attend class in distant schoolhouses.

Students Fartun & Jolisa introduce the filmsThe Walking School Bus (WSB) students were responsible for introducing On the Way to School and started by sharing a short volunteer-created film of their own on-the-way-to school experience via the Walking School Bus.  What a great piece that really captures the program!

To get to the event, volunteers walked with the WSB students from school to the library downtown. In addition to introducing the films, WSB students thanked program funders (Center for Disease Control, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Maine Department of Transportation) and others (volunteers who share the walk with the students each day, the filmmaker (Terrence Wolfe) etc.) publicly.  A number of volunteer Walk Leaders were in the audience and the WSB students had them stand for applause, then invited participating students and Terry the filmmaker to stand as well.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn their walk with volunteers back home to the East End, students shared their excitement about their experience.

The Portland Children’s Film Festival also showed the Walking School Bus video at the Young Filmmaker’s Contest Red Carpet event on Thursday night and then at the Nickelodeon Cinema on Sunday – even though it wasn’t an official entry because it was not specifically student-led/driven.  So it was a wonderful surprise to see it up on the big screens as well!

March 31, 2015 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Farm Safety Brings Reflective Vests and Scooter Safety Education to Our Amish Friends

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA couple of years ago we were visiting our friends the Stoltzfuses, an Amish family living in Lancaster County, and I was delighted to see that the kids were starting to wear high visibility reflective vests when riding their scooters to school and around town.

(In their particular Old Order Amish church district they’re not permitted to ride pedal bikes, so they ride fairly big, efficient push scooters instead. Local Old Order Mennonites can ride bikes.)

It turns out Kay Moyer – a local “English” woman who works for the Pennsylvania State Extension (similar to Maine’s Cooperative Extension program) as a farm safety educator – is especially concerned with getting vests on every Old Order Amish and Mennonite student in the area.  (It’s particularly important for the Amish because of the dark clothes they generally wear.)

Cedar and Kathleen scooter to schoolInitially she helped local Amish and Mennonite families get the materials to make the vests – and now the program is also distributing ready-made versions.  Through her puppet and toy presentations, she also ensures that students learn proper road traffic safety skills – in addition to farm equipment safety.

We just made our annual visit a couple weeks ago and I got permission to photograph a few of our Stoltzfus friends riding to school with their vests (first photo above).  I was encouraged to see more adults wearing vests on scooters and bikes as well.

And there’s a photo of our daughter Cedar (sans vest because of her bright pink coat) riding off to school with her friend Kathleen on a different morning, too.

Cedar and Kathleen walk up hillYou can see that a lot of uphill scootering involves walking (slower than biking but good exercise!)

March 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment


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