Chilliwack school bus drivers reach out to sidelined students

Fifty one drivers are creating works of art to show kids they are missed during the pandemic

Chilliwack school bus driver Sharon Winter says she misses the laughter and smiles of the children who ride with her in Promontory and Rosedale.

She wants those students to know she’s thinking of them and that’s why she’s excited about a new project.

In several places around Chilliwack this week, art projects are popping up.

Fifty one full-time bus drivers are painting rocks, creating signs and chalking sidewalks to show they care.

“A lot of drivers have gotten into painting rocks and leaving them in places like the Vedder trail and up at Cultus Lake and in the neighborhoods that our bus drivers live in,” says Winter, who is the foreman of the Chilliwack School District’s bus driver training program. “Sometimes they’re even being left on students’ driveways.

“We’re definitely missing our students. They draw pictures for us and give those to us after school. Laughs and smiles and high fives and art projects, they make us feel good. I hope when the students see what we’re doing, they feel good too, and have a smile on their faces because we thought of them.”

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Tony Demers is the assistant foreman of the bus driver training program and is helping coordinate the project.

Winter says more will be done over the next couple of days, and early reaction on Facebook has been predictably positive.

“This really warmed my son’s heart yesterday, That’s his bus!” Bobbi Kuva wrote on the Promontory Community page after spotting a sign from the driver of the No. 12.

Wayne Williams, the Chilliwack School District’s Manager of Transportation, says the project is good for the mental health of drivers sidelined by COVID-19.

“Not only do they have to deal with their own personal stuff and the pandemic, just like everyone else, but not being at work as well – this is a positive project for them and the students on their bus,” he said. “The bus drivers are the first person and the last person the kids see at the beginning and end of their day in the classroom, and they develop relationships with those students just like teachers do.

“There’s a real connection there and it’s been great having the drivers send in pictures of all the things that they’ve been doing.”

This feel-good story is part of the #WereInThisTogether campaign by Black Press Media. Have an uplifting story that you think would bring joy to readers? Email your story, photos and videos to wereinthistogether@blackpress.ca.


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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