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Makauri School opens new bike track

MAKAURI School has joined the network of schools enjoying the benefits of an on-site bike track and the input of the Bikes in Schools programme.

The school opened its track on Friday to a large community turnout.

Principal Judy Nicoll and deputy principal Darylle Lawler said the facility was a real asset to the school.

“Many rural students don’t tend to ride bikes to school, so this resource provides the ability to develop skills, build confidence and prepares them for more advanced riding,” Ms Nicoll said.

Training provided through the Bikes in Schools programme, for both teachers and students, involves students hitting the track twice a week for practice, all part of a new curriculum participating schools offer.

Te Hapara School opened its track last term and it has had a significant benefit for students.

Principal Linda Savage said the bike park is a fantastic addition to the school’s resources.

Despite some initial challenges involving track construction and bike availability, the follow-up and support provided by the Bikes in Schools team is brilliant, she said.

Students who could not ride a bike before the programme started are now confidently able to traverse the track.

Trips to the Botanical Gardens and Waikanae boardwalk for riding practice further develops students’ confidence riding in the community.

Safety essentialsSkills in safety essentials and basic bicycle mechanics are also benefits of the programme.

Basic cycle skills have traditionally been the responsibility of family, but Ms Savage said this was no longer always the case and having this resource available to all students was a significant advantage.

Parents who visit the school from out of town have said what a great facility the track is and are impressed by the programme.

Kaiti School principal Billie-Jean Potaka Ayton said the initiative was an amazing addition to her school, with multiple benefits for staff and students.

Since the track was built three years ago, the confidence displayed by students on bikes has increased significantly and new students transferring from other schools without the programme are noticeably less capable.

Students are given a helmet, which is significant for them and develops a real investment in the process, she said.

While maintenance of bikes and the track is the responsibility of the school, this is seen as an acceptable cost, given the benefits achieved and the enjoyment of students getting out to ride.

The Bikes in Schools project has been delivered throughout Gisborne by the Connext Charitable Trust.

Trust manager Jo Haughey said feedback to the programme has been positive and several principals have commented on how much enjoyment families are getting from the tracks outside school hours.

The project is in its third stage and is nearly complete, with one more school, Awapuni, getting a track once its hall rebuild is complete.

Tracks have been built at Kaiti School, Waikirikiri School, Tolaga Bay Area School, Te Kura Kaupapa o Whatatutu, Te Hapara School, Te Wharau School, Ilminster School, Makaraka School, Makauri School, Elgin School, Riverdale School, Te Kura Kaupapa o Mangatuna and Mangapapa School.

This equates to 4794 metres of completed tracks, 543 bikes, 1926 helmets and 3153 children on bikes more often.

Enjoying their new bike track are Lachlan Spriggs (front), Waiora Bond-Campbell (left) Selina Mill and teacher Tim Kirkpatrick. All agree the new track has helped develop their riding confidence and is “really awesome”. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell