First Ride program introduces kids to the school bus

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Rocky View Schools (RVS) wants to make sure students new to riding a school bus have a positive experience, according to Carla Veenstra, RVS transportation manager.

“It just helps the kids know the rules of the bus. Lots of time the new riders – kindergartens, Grade 1s – can be really nervous about riding the bus,” she said. “It just makes them more comfortable with their experience when they first get on the bus in September.”

According to Veenstra, RVS has been offering the First Ride program for many years. In the past, the program was run at each school.

“Now we just do it as a big group in our centre here,” she said. “Generally, it’s parents who come with their child who is a new rider to the bus or they can bring their other siblings if they want.”

The program isn’t limited to just kindergarten or Grade 1 students. Veenstra said students of all ages new to riding the bus are welcome to attend.

RVS will be running the program on three dates in August, two for urban students and one specifically for rural students. The dates for urban students are Aug. 15 and 16 and for rural students, Aug. 17. All sessions are held at the RVS Education Centre on Chinook Winds Drive.

“They would come in at 6:30 (p.m.) They would see the program that is put on by contractors – either First Student or Southland does the presentation,” Veenstra said. “They go through safety and try to get the kids involved, and the parents listen in. Then after that they will go on a short bus ride.”

Veenstra said the kids go on the bus by themselves or parents can go along with a child if they are nervous or anxious.

“They pretend they’re stopping at a bus stop, and (show) what to do and that,” she said. “They know the rules – keep your hands to yourself, speak quietly – so they’re just more comfortable when it’s time to do the real thing.”

While the program is intended to help kids be more comfortable with riding the school bus, Veenstra said the parents are often the ones who get the most out of the First Ride program.

“They’re the ones who are probably more nervous than the kids about going out to ride a bus for the first time,” she said. “A lot of it is just putting to rest a lot of the fears the parents might have: my child is going to get lost, who receives them at the school, those types of things.”

Registration for the program is required and can be done by sending an email to firstride@rockyview.ab.ca including the date you wish to attend, the child’s name, number of adults attending and your contact information.

“It’s just a really good safety program for our first-time bus riders,” Veenstra said.

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