City school's new cycle track a hit with kids and teachers

Samuel Douds-Needham and Ruby Sarsfield rapt to be riding the new track.
Christine Walsh

Samuel Douds-Needham and Ruby Sarsfield rapt to be riding the new track.

It was smiles all round as kids took to two wheels in a show of pedal power at the launch of a new inner city cycle and pump track.

When teachers and pupils of West End Te Kura O Morere biked around their new 350m circuit it was hard to decipher who was having more fun. 

With 50 bikes and helmets now at their disposal the primary school's 356 children could cycle five days a week, or use the track with their own bikes in the weekend, said Let's Go spokesperson Nathaniel Benefield.

People gather for the grand opening of the new cycle track at West End Te Kura O Morere.
Christine Walsh

People gather for the grand opening of the new cycle track at West End Te Kura O Morere.

The West End school is between two state highways and heavy traffic flows can make the ride to school tricky.

"Now they have easy access every day to good ride experiences and skill building. The end view will translate to more riding to school and riding in general as a transport choice," Benefield said.

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High-fives all round when teacher Warren smart goes round the track.
Christine Walsh

High-fives all round when teacher Warren smart goes round the track.

The idea for the circuit stemmed from an innocent visit to a neighbouring school about 18 months back.

A small crew of year six students in the Let's Go Team checked out Marfell School's cycle track and they loved what they saw and decided their school must have one too.

With the help of teacher Jo Francis-Alles the The Let's Go kids got going.  They sent out a batch of letters to people including the assistant principal and a parent representative, while Frances- Alles met with Paul McArdle from Bikes in Schools.

The positive feedback gave them the green light to go.  

Now they have a track any school would be proud of that was built through funding from grants and sponsors, and help from the wider community and school.

Come grand opening day the entire school welcomed all those with a hand in the track and a few local dignitaries to boot. The day was made more special by the song and dance of the school's kapa haka group.

For principal Mike Clarke the natural benefits reach further than the track.  His school's philosophy is that learning doesn't just happen within the four walls of the classroom.

"It's about giving kids authentic learning experiences and it doesn't get more authentic than this.  The greatest thing is it's in our own backyard," he said.

Previously there were always some children who were never maybe physically active or involved in sport activities, he said.

"That's given us the greatest satisfaction, that all children have the ability to move and be involved in exercise and they are doing it in a fun and enthusiastic way."

And that is the real spin off.

Future plans to enhance the track include developing a wetlands area beyond the boardwalks and incorporating the school's decommissioned swimming in some way.

 - Stuff

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