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Riding the bus is a family affair

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Our latest rider profile is on Kate King and her family

Eleven-month-old Elliott King raised his chubby right hand. With two fingers bent, he began bobbing his hand up and down.

“He is signing the word bus,” explained his mother Kate King, who has had a visual and hearing impairment since she was a young child. She is teaching Elliott sign language.

Pre-COVID19, she and her family members were regular users of public transportation.

“I only carry one person onto the bus at a time,” she said referencing the intentional spacing of the ages of her three children. Elliot’s brother Theo is 10 and his sister Samantha is 6.

Intentional describes Kate’s approach to life. When she and her husband made the decision to move from their home in Utah, they studied areas in the Pacific Northwest with public transportation systems.

“Riding the bus gives my kids a sense of community,” she said. “They walk through the neighborhood to get to the bus stop, which means they know how to get around their neighborhood. The street names and landmarks are familiar so they won't get lost if they want to go to the park or to their friend's house.”

As they walk, they talk about birds, squirrels, weather, how cars work, and trees and photosynthesis.

“You inevitably meet your neighbors as they walk to and from their cars and work in their yards,” Kate said. “If you introduce yourself and learn the names of your neighbors, your kids will, too. Children learn that people live in these houses and apartments that surround you and that they all have lives and feelings, too.”

Kate shares some advice for fellow parents to encourage community engagement: 

First, put the city’s Report Graffiti hotline number in your mobile phone, 503-371-4264. Children will learn about community involvement as you spot problem areas and report them.

Second, give the bus a try.

“Go on one bus trip per day,” she said. “With the time kids take to walk and the time to wait for the bus, plus time to ride the bus and time at your destination, and then the return trip, that's all you will have time for in between meals.”

Lastly, walk.

“Walking tends to free our thoughts and keeps us moving,” Kate said.

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