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.
Gisborne 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.
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”