All go at the opening event for Gonville School, Whanganui

There’s lots going on around cycling in Whanganui with their new Let’s Go project, so its really good to see the very first Bikes in School project up and running in the area.
Well done to the BOT, Principal and staff at Gonville School and everyone who has supported them along the way. This includes, Whanganui Community Foundation, Powerco Trust, Sport Whanganui,  Whanganui District Council, New Zealand Transport Agency, MOE, Citi Containers, St John’s Landscaping, Whanganui Police and Velo Ronny’s Bicycle store.
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Like many other Bikes in Schools projects around the country, this will be very much a local community asset. Gonville principal Greg Elgar said that: “The great thing is that there are bikes in all sizes so families can come use the bikes to ride around the track together”.
Great to have the Mayor Hamish McDouall, Olympic cyclist Greg Anderson and other guests all riding around the wonderful new tracks with the students. The local pre-school also came along to test out the track!

Kaiti School, Gisborne “runs out of plasters”

February saw the official opening of the track at Kaiti School – the first of an ambitious plan to bring Bikes in Schools to at least 20 schools throughout the Gisborne region.

20160219_114424Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, principal Billie-Jean Potaka-Ayton and
CONNEXT’s Prue Younger snip the ribbon with help from a young Kaiti rider

Over the next 10 years, Gisborne District Council will fund $50,000 a year towards the project, which, along with further community trust funding and donations will be administered via the Gisborne’s CONNEXT Trust.

CONNEXT  is a new body made up of local leaders representing the council, iwi, health, sport, schools and businesses, and aims to improve the health of young people throughout the area.

The school has already seen some extraordinary results from the project even before the official launch.  Principal Billie-Jean Potaka-Ayton said that the kids had been using the tracks for three weeks already:  “The first week we had 40 children who could not ride a bike, the second week we had 20 and by the end of the third week, every student in the school could ride a bike.”

The only issue? The school office ran out of plasters in the first weeks.

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The Bikes in Schools concept was introduced to the Gisborne area by Katrina Duncan and Anelia Evans, who also helped train cycle skills co-ordinators for the project.  The official opening of the first school track under the programme was a great moment for Katrina: “The smiles on their faces says it all. I am so stoked. The simplicity of this is why it is so effective”

Council funding gets more kids riding bikes

Funding for a further three schools to help implement Bikes in Schools projects  has just been announced by Wellington City Council. This is part of a 3 year funding commitment from WCC totalling $600,000.

Amesbury School, Hampton Hill School and Houghton Valley School will each receive a minimum of $50,000 towards the cost of purpose built bike tracks and bike storage. following on from a successful pilot last year at three other Wellington schools (Holy Cross, West Park and Karori West)

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WCC’s Councillor Andy Foster said ““Allocation of this funding is one of the ways the Council is encouraging active transport, improving road safety throughout Wellington and making the city safer for people cycling. This is especially important for our children.”

You can read the full WCC press release on their website here

Bikes for Schools launch at Holy Cross School in Miramar

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown opens the Holy Cross School track (March 2015)

West Park School, Johnsonville

West Park School’s track was finished a little while ago and has seen plenty of use already, but this week saw the official opening of the facility by Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown (below).

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This is the second track opened through WCC’s Bikes in Schools project, with more planned.

The school thinks that the track has given the sports field an extra dimension for the local community – something we have seen all around the country with other 20151103_121825projects. Principal Luis Echegaray said that “neighbours have commented that they have never seen the field used as often. From the early hours of the morning to the end of the day, young and old are using the track – cycling, walking, jogging and teaching younger ones to ride bikes…I can’t thank Wellington City Council enough and all the people that have contributed …you all have given West Park School and the Johnsonville community a wonderful facility to be proud of and that will be used by thousands of people over the coming years…”

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Peter Rhodes-Robinson has two children at the school, and was also one of the volunteers helping with the the track. He talked about seeing “that moment when kids first learn to ride, that joyful moment….this is the only place in Johnsonville that’s flat enough to ride so we bought our kids here to learn to ride. We bring a thermos down and have a cup of tea while the kids ride around.”

Freemans Bay School features in the Education Gazette

CaptureSome great stories coming out of Freemans Bay School in Auckland, which was featured on the front page of the Education Gazette this week (you can read the full article here)

The Freemans Bay track opened back in March this year (our original blog and pics are here), thanks to support from a range of sponsors. It was opened by Associate Minister for Education Nikki Kaye MP, and we were sure at the time that the kids were going to really love using it because the school is located in inner-city Auckland, where there’s not much space to get out and play – especially on bikes.

And the story in the Education Gazette confirms that and more. Just a few months in, it’s becoming very clear what an impact the track has had:

  • it’s a community asset that is used by families across the area. BoT chair Peter Bateman recently noticed a child’s birthday party being held at the track. “I was walking by the school on the weekend when I came across a birthday party, involving some boys at the school, and their families and friends. It was great to see the children riding around on their bikes in a group like that. We’re all about the community, and building those community links.”
  • The number of kids biking to school has increased – the school has had to look at installing cycle racks for the first time. It started happening before the track opened, when groups of kids came at the weekend to try it out. “In nearly 20 years’ involvement at the school, that was the first time that I’d seen kids bringing their bikes to the school grounds”.
  • The track helps with cycle safety;  Peter says: “Many of our students didn’t have anywhere to safely ride a bike, or even to learn to ride a bike, for that matter.”

The last word needs to go to the adventurous Paige from Freemans Bay, who told the Gazette:

“At the start of the year I couldn’t even ride a bike and now I can ride standing up and with one hand. I am so happy that the school got a bike track because now I can go on long bike rides with the rest of my family. Now that I am riding my bike every week I am getting physically fitter and I am happier for some reason”

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Hampton Hill School in Wellington starts the journey

Good news from Hampton Hill School in Tawa, Wellington, where the school has become one of the latest around the country to plan a new Bikes in Schools project. Inspired by the success of the project at Titahi Bay School, Boards of Trustees member Jill Day thought that something similar would work well at Hampton Hill too.

Hampton Hill

School principal Kelly O’Leary (above left with Jill) agreed that the project would fit in well with the school’s goals – “We want healthy, engaged children and we want children who risk take”, she said. An added advantage is that a new cycle trail through Tawa itself has just been completed, so the school sees the opportunity to teach kids to ride in the safe environment of the school grounds, then let them loose outside school to take full advantage of the new trail outside.

It sounds like the Tawa community are already getting behind the scheme, too – one parent has already offered to teach children how to service the bikes.

Best of luck, Hampton Hill school in your fundraising efforts – we’re really looking forward to seeing the completed facilities!

Camberley School, Hastings

Wellington’s wild weather finally reached Hawkes Bay on Friday, but even that wasn’t enough to dent the enthusiasm of the 120 kids at Camberley School, Hastings – at the official opening of the new cycle tracks at the school and round the adjacent Kirkpatrick Park. IMG_2336 The sky opened just as things kicked off, prompting a mad rush to the cover of school hall for kids and visitors. IMG_2308 But it didn’t dampen the excitement! Camberley as an area has had some hard knocks in the last couple of years. But principal Pat Watson said that the school now had a unique community asset that was already being used by not just kids but also by their parents and others in the community too, and that he’s been surprised by how popular path the path has become already. The school itself has a limesand track round its own playing field, which joins a longer concrete path winding it’s way round Kirkpatrick Park next door – built by Hastings District Council as part of it’s iWay project. Hastings Councillor Sandra Hazehurst said that paths like this were all part of HDC’s wider investment in getting local people cycling. This joint school/council collaboration has worked really well at Camberley School and it would be great to see similar elsewhere. IMG_2330 Councillor Malcolm Nixon threw down the gauntlet, challenging principal Pat Watson to a bike race. But although it was just too wet to race on Friday, we’re going to hold him to that one. Watch this space! Thanks to Eastern And Central Community Trust for their contribution – it is much appreciated. Also to Sport Hawkes Bay for their help with the initial cycle skills training, and to the Rotary Club for helping assemble the bikes.