PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Growing numbers of children in Rhode Island and across the country are climbing aboard the walking school bus.

This isn't any ordinary bus. It starts with an adult volunteer, who goes house to house picking up children. The group then walks to school together — and back home in the afternoons.

These buses are cropping up in school districts from California to Massachusetts. Health departments, schools and parents like them because they help fight obesity, improve attendance rates and ensure that kids get to school safely. Children like them because they are fun.

In Providence, 10-year-old Rosanyily (roh-SAN'-jah-lee) Laurenz used to be late to school when her grandmother couldn't walk with her. Now, she says, "I get to walk with my friends. ... Plus, I get snacks."