First Rider program is back

Teaching students about school bus safety

Local school jurisdictions are rolling out the eighth annual First Rider bus safety event.

Co-ordinators from transporation departments of Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division, Red Deer Public Schools, and Chinook’s Edge School Division, along with Prairie Bus Lines, are hosting the event that targets students in kindergarten and Grade 1 and any other students who will be riding a school bus for the first time.

The free 45-minute program involves four activity stations where students become familiar and comfortable with protocols, procedures and expectations that will make their busing experience successful.

First Rider will be offered in Red Deer at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, 50 Lees St., on Aug. 15 and in Olds at Olds College, 4500-50th St., on Aug. 16. The program runs 1 to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m. both days.

“The event takes place right before school resumes in the fall, so it’s a great way to transition from summer into a safe year ahead. First Rider is popular and successful – we’ve had at least 200 students participate every year since we started the program in 2009,” said Patty Thompson, assistant director of transportation for Chinook’s Edge, in a press release.

Participants start by watching a video of Winnie-the-Pooh as he rides a school bus for the first time. They learn about safety priorities at the bus stop, conduct a safety evacuation and discover the “danger zone” around the bus where incidents are most likely to occur. They also hop on a school bus with their parents or guardian for a 10-minute ride to learn about loading and exiting the bus correctly.

Each participant will also receive a goody bag.

“We will always continue providing information and practice sessions at the school level, as most students will be on the bus at one point for field trips. But for our regular bus riders who are just starting out, the First Rider program will make this important journey into school less intimidating,” said Scott Hucal, general manager of Prairie Bus Lines which serves Red Deer and the northern areas of Chinook’s Edge.

First Rider is open to all families throughout the areas served by the three school divisions.

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