Anonymous donation boosts Rawhiti School cycling programme
A Christchurch school has received a $50,000 anonymous donation, with funds to go towards 50 bikes and a variety of on-site bike tracks to promote cycle safety.
Rawhiti School, New Brighton, received the donation in February and deputy principal Paul Wilkinson said he had "absolutely no idea" where it came from.
"We are incredibly grateful that someone would support us in this way," Wilkinson said.
He said the money will be used to fund the school's involvement in the Bikes in Schools programme.
"[The donation] makes it a project that we are able to commit to doing, rather than a great idea that we now have to fundraise for."
Bikes in Schools was started in 2010 by Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust, and had been introduced in over 50 schools nationwide.
Schools funded their own involvement in the programme which involved purchasing 50 bikes and constructing several tracks, including a 440 metre loop track, a skills track, and a pump track.
Wilkinson said once they were built he encouraged the community to use the tracks, which will be open to the public.
"There is so much damaged infrastructure in the east, so having a safe place for our kids to ride off the road is really valuable to us.
"Many families are not feeling safe riding to school, so we hope once we get a bike track, kids and families will be confident to do that more."
Wilkinson said a lot of pupils stopped riding bikes after the earthquakes, so on-site facilities where kids could build confidence and learn about cycle safety was important.
Rawhiti School had been involved in Christchurch City Council's (CCC) Cycle Safe programme since last term, which Wilkinson said showed the school's commitment to cycling.
"That formal training is so valuable for our kids and there is a real desire in our community to keep that going – it had given them a lot of confidence."
Cycle Safe education coordinator Sarah Cooper said Rawhiti School was exemplary in showing how a community could embrace cycling as a family activity as well as a mode of transport.
"The point of difference with Cycle Safe is that this is not just about bike skills – it offers on road training to all the students, year six and older."
Cooper said they had begun to include parents in the training, with the hope of "break[ing] through the perception that the roads in Christchurch are just too dangerous for their children".
"There are safe ways to cycle, as long as you have the skills."