Walking Bus still going strong

2020-01-28 06:00
Ricardo MacKenzie, Mitchell’s Plain parliamentary constituency head, visited members of the Lentegeur Walking Bus last week.

Ricardo MacKenzie, Mitchell’s Plain parliamentary constituency head, visited members of the Lentegeur Walking Bus last week.

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In keeping their commitment to safeguarding children, the thousands of Walking Bus volunteers returned to their posts along with the more than 1 million learners earlier this month.

Ricardo MacKenzie, Mitchell’s Plain parliamentary constituency head, visited members of the Lentegeur Walking Bus on Tuesday 21 January.

“The energy among members of the team was electric although it was so early in the morning, more so, given that so many people smiled and greeted the Walking Bus members on the way. This is indeed a great service offering by the mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato. Speaking to some of the parents they welcome this initiative,” says MacKenzie.

Plato relaunched the Walking Bus initiative with the same group late last year, (“Bus’ project expands”, People’s Post, 22 October 2019).

The Walking Bus initiative was conceptualised in May 2016 by Plato when he was still the provincial minister for community safety and was officially integrated as a City of Cape Town project where 1 700 volunteers had already been recruited and active.

The initiative further made provision for volunteers to be paid a stipend, with each member receiving a kit which included signs, a new bib and safety equipment.

The main aim of the project is to ensure children are transported to and from school safely. Plato also spent time with the Lentegeur Walking Bus members at the launch.

“We saw the positive impact of this project as one of the flagship campaigns aimed at keeping our young people safe,” said Plato at the time.

MacKenzie says one of his major concerns is an extraordinary number of overloaded vehicles and he cautioned parents against participating in this.

“This is very dangerous for their kids’ safety. I know the difficulty in finding reliable transport, but ask that parents rather spend more time in looking for very reliable transport than putting their kids life at risk,” he says. “One of the other alarming factors was seeing the number of high school learners smoking as they walk to school. I have seen it before and reported it, but the numbers were extreme this morning. Much more than normal.”

Plato recently welcomed the members back to school with an event in the city.

“The success of the Walking Bus is due to the dedication and commitment of our members to ensure the safety of our children. This simple act of walking with learners helps to get them to school safely and affords them the opportunity to receive an education. This is the most meaningful way of protecting these future leaders who could become doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, sportspersons and so much more,” says Plato in a statement.

“Making our communities safer requires everyone to be involved and we are pleased that so many community members have shown an interest in being part of this project. The Walking Bus campaign has seen thousands of parents become volunteers.”

The initiative has already been launched in 56 areas with an additional 20 areas earmarked for expanded roll-out.

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