|TROTTIBUS WALKING SCHOOL BUS DEBUTS AT DUNRAE GARDENS|
MONTREAL, MAY 24, 2016 – Dunrae Gardens Elementary School in the Town of Mount Royal launched the Trottibus Walking School Bus program, an initiative of the Canadian Cancer Society, on Wednesday, May 24.
This pedestrian bus allows elementary school children to walk to school safely through planned routes, and under the supervision of screened volunteers. Students reap the healthy benefits of walking as opposed to taking the school bus. Dunrae Gardens is the first EMSB school to participate in the Trottibus initiative, which is organized through the Canadian Cancer Society’s Trottibus website.
Trottibus was brought to the attention of Pietro Gasparrini, chair of the Dunrae Gardens Governing Board, two years ago by Yan Deville, who at the time was the school’s physical education teacher. “I’m so glad it worked out,” said Mr. Gasparrini, all smiles after the inaugural walk to school. “It’s an alternative form of transportation that promotes physical activity, sustainability, and socializing with peers, rain or shine.”
Dunrae Gardens’ Trottibus currently includes 16 participating students travelling two routes, and eight rotating parent volunteers. According to Principal Elena Zervas, the program was a challenge to organize as students come from neighbouring areas, and as far away as Park Extension. “Pietro worked very hard to make this happen,” added Ms. Zervas. “Our Governing Board prioritizes health and safety. This is a great way to start.”
The Canadian Cancer Society created Trottibus five years ago for many reasons, including increasing the level of daily physical activity, lowering the risk of cancer, easing traffic around the school, greener neigbourhoods, and more. On their website, they state that around half of all cancer cases can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and the implementation of policies to protect public health. In addition, they remark that each kilometre covered on foot on a daily basis is associated with a five percent decrease in the probability of becoming obese.
Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Vanessa Simic, a Master’s student in public health at Université de Laval in Quebec City, was present for the inaugural Trottibus walk, lending support when needed. Simic explained that 24 schools on the island of Montreal currently participate in Trottibus. “We’re hoping to recruit more schools. We see positive results for kids that have healthier habits and are more active from an earlier age,” she shared.
Michael J. Cohen