Opinion: The Benefits of Being a Parent Champion

BY AMBER DUNN HUSTEAD
FOR THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Amber Dunn Hustead / Courtesy Photo

North Natomas Jibe is a local organization with programs meant to make it easier for all of us to leave our car at home. Among its offerings, Jibe supports a Walk and Bike to School program.

For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of leading the walk-to-school effort at Westlake Charter School as a Jibe parent champion. This role has helped connect me with my kids and the school community. (A walking school bus is when a group of children walk to school with trained volunteers.)

As a Jibe parent champion, I work with both students and parent volunteers every day. I love being one of the first people to greet students in the morning. I start my day at Burberry Park where students gather before walking to school together in a walking school bus formation.

Next, I check students in as they arrive on campus. The students are excited because they get to see how many trips they’ve made while earning rewards. Parents love it because they get a notification that their child has made it safely to school. After the bell rings, I work with my volunteers on fun ideas and upcoming events that encourage students to walk.

I feel incredibly fortunate to start my morning with my children, their friends and my friends. Watching the kids enjoy a relaxing walk to school while chatting and laughing with other students is one of the best parts of my day. I have also met some incredible parent champions whom I now call friends.

Walking to school, organizing Jibe’s school programs and interacting with other community members not only benefits me but my children as well. My kids have become even more connected to our school community as ambassadors of our Walk and Bike to School program and made dozens of new friends along the way. They look forward to leading the walking school bus and helping me greet their friends each day.

Jibe parent champions are just one way to make a positive impact throughout our schools and the North Natomas community. I can’t wait to be out walking with our families again this August!


Jibe is a nonprofit organization that encourages the North Natomas community to walk, bike and use public transportation. It is funded through rider fares, community facilities district fees paid by property owners in North Natomas and grants. Visit the Jibe website to learn more about becoming a parent champion and to apply for open  positions at Star Academy, Witter Ranch, and Natomas Park Elementary. Parent champions are paid $18 per hour.

The Westlake Charter walking school bus heads to campus. / Courtesy Photo

 

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