Schools create wheelie healthy communities

So what happens when life gives Kiwi schools bumps on the road to health? The schools turn the bumps into an obstacle course!

A primary school near Wellington is among the latest using good old Kiwi ingenuity to combat barriers on the road to health.

undefinedTitahi Bay School in Porirua has implemented a bike programme that has kids more active, confident and resilient, despite the obstacles, says school principal Kerry Delaney.

Time, money, ability, special needs and resources are all common factors that might normally prevent a school from facilitating healthy education, but the way Titahi Bay School has positively sent these issues into oblivion is inspired.

Ms Delaney says the school community has come together for the bike programme: raising funds, teaching children to ride and training students of all ages in bike safety and maintenance.

“We have a parents group that receives training in fixing bikes and who donate their time,” she says.

The school has created a bike-track around the school field and encourages its students to ride to school and at break times.

“We have up to 300 bikes per day at school, which really shows parents are behind the programme.”

The programme is funded by the school board and through their annual triathlon, which has been running for eight years.

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Ms Delaney says if a child hasn’t brought a bike to school or their parents can’t afford one, they can still get physical, using a donated bike.

“We make sure that no child goes without a bike.”

Fundraising bought the school a shipping container worth $15,000, in which they store bikes and helmets.

Students are taught road safety skills and how to ride through Pedal Ready, a Wellington programme that uses NZQA certified instructors to deliver cycle skills compliant with the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Cycle skills guidelines.

It’s not only able-bodied children benefiting from the bike programme. Ms Delaney says special needs students who are blind or in a wheelchair are learning to ride too.

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“Every child in our school knows how to ride a bike. We spend a lot of time teaching them.”

Students don’t merely content themselves with the bike track; the school created a pump track to teach kids tricks for advanced riding skills in dangerous conditions and uneven surfaces.

Is all the effort worth it? Yes, according to Ms Delaney, who says her students have become fitter and have gained a sense of achievement.

undefinedThe eighth annual Titahi Bay School triathlon was held in March this year, in which 395 students (84% of the school's role) participated.

Photos courtesy of Titahi Bay School.

Learn more

Cyclist skills training (pdf) New Zealand Transport Agency’s
Cycle skills for everyone Pedal Ready