The Salem-Keizer Public Schools transportation department has been awarded a $10,000 grant through OEA Choice Trust to support employee wellness.

The purpose of the grant is to infuse mindfulness practices into the workplace to increase community and staff wellbeing.

Goals for the grant

Bus drivers are one of the first individuals that some students will interact with in the morning and a crucial component to the success of every school day. Grant funds will help provide opportunities to create safe and comfortable quiet spaces for bus drivers to destress and develop an awareness of their own mental and physical health conditions before driving. The grant will also provide opportunities for mindful movement to help bus drivers stay physically active.

Grant funds will help to cultivate a work environment for bus drivers that encourages self-care and provides adequate spaces and resources for staff to manage and cope with their emotions.

Implementing wellness

Grant funding will provide pillows, couches, fans and separation barriers for quiet spaces. Funding will also provide exercise equipment, such as arm peddlers, resistance bands, yoga mats or other activities like ping pong and foosball. Signage to promote mindfulness activities will be acquired through grant funding to remind staff about the importance of prioritizing their mental and physical wellbeing.

“It’s so important that every student has a safe way of getting to school,” said Transportation Field Coordinator Maureen Linn-Medici. “Bus drivers are so critical to the day-to-day operations of our schools, and their physical and mental wellness is just as important.”

Thanks to the grant-writing team

Pam Vorachek, a current bus driver in our district, was a key contributor during the grant-writing process, along with Maureen and other members of the transportation department.

“This team worked diligently to ensure that our district could provide additional support to bus drivers and access to wellness activities,” said Transportation & Fleet Services Director T.J. Crockett. “Having access to fun and engaging mental and physical health activities is refreshing after a long driving route.”

SKPS is grateful for the grant funds that are being dedicated to providing mindfulness activities and improving wellness for our bus drivers.