Kaiti first with school bike tracks

Smiles on the faces of Kaiti School students said it all yesterday at the opening of the region’s first Bikes in Schools tracks.

Smiles on the faces of Kaiti School students said it all yesterday at the opening of the region’s first Bikes in Schools tracks.

RIDING HIGH: A $200,000 grant from the Eastland Community Trust has significantly boosted the Bikes in Schools project at regional level. Pictured here are Kaiti School students, who have piloted the program. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
BIKING MAD: Cylce-fever has taken over Kaiti School since the completion of the three bike tracks. The students are already seeing the benefits. Principal Billie-Jean Potaka-Ayton says three weeks ago 40 students could not ride a bike, two weeks ago that number dropped to 20 and now another week later, every single student at the school can ride a bike. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

THE bike tracks at Kaiti School are a result of 18 months work by a range of different community groups and figures.

It all started when Gisborne Cycle Tour Company owner Katrina Duncan learned about the Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust, Bikes in Schools initiative in 2014 — a nationwide project started by the trust that aims to make sure all Kiwi kids can ride a bike regularly within school.

Ms Duncan brought the idea back to Gisborne. From there, submissions were made during the 2015 long-term plan consultation process to secure funding.

Now Kaiti School has become the first in the region to have three completed bike tracks.

Usually the trust works with one school at a time. The plan for Gisborne is to have tracks in at least 20 schools, partly funded through $500,000 allocated to the project via the Gisborne District Council’s $12 million active transport priorities fund.

Over the next 10 years, GDC will release $50,000 a year from the fund towards the project.

The GDC money, alongside further community trust funding, donations and school contributions, will be administered via the CONNEXT Trust.

CONNEXT is a new body in Gisborne made up of local leaders representing the council, iwi, health, sport, schools and businesses. It aims to support projects that improve the health and well-being of young people.

Bikes in schools is fantastic

Founder of Bike On NZ Paul McArdle says seeing Bikes in Schools become a reality in Gisborne is “absolutely fantastic”.

“The Kaiti School track is the first of many. Gisborne has taken the Bikes in Schools template and come together as a community — it is just amazing.”

As part of the initiative, each school will also be supplied with a fleet of bikes and a helmet for each student.

Kaiti School parent Jason McIntosh says this has already benefited the students.

“My son Lazarus has his own but for the Weet-Bix TRYathlon some students used the school’s bikes if they did not have one.

“I think it's really good, as not all kids have a bike. It means they don't miss out and everyone can have a go.”

Kaiti School received 50 bikes and tracks created by Fulton Hogan, a 480-metre riding track, a pump track and a skills track.

The cost to completely set up a school with bikes, tracks and helmets is around $60,000.

Principal Billie-Jean Potaka-Ayton says to ensure longevity, they have employed co-ordinators who have been trained to administer bike safety and bike skills programmes. Money is also set aside for bike maintenance.

“We are so happy. It has been a huge collective effort to get this finished and the kids love it.”

The official launch was yesterday, but Mrs Potaka-Ayton confessed the kids have been using the tracks for three weeks with some incredible results 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.”

Combating obesity

Aside from safety and confidence-building, one effect of the tracks is to help combat Gisborne’s alarming childhood obesity rates, which are the worst in the country at 21 percent, double the national average.

The co-ordinators were trained by Ms Duncan. She says biking is something children can safely and actively engage in.

“The smiles on their faces says it all. I am so stoked. The simplicity of this is why it is so effective. It is good healthy fun.”

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Brent Sheldrake says the tracks are a hard remedy to beat.

“We have made no secret about youth and youth health and wellbeing being a priority, and you cannot get much better than this. It is fantastic.”

The students agree.

Sol Bevins, 5, had the honour of cutting the tracks’ ribbon. It turns out the young daredevil has a need for speed.

“My favourite thing is going fast and overtaking people,” he says.

Fellow students Reece Tauroa and Scarlett Wylie, both 10, enjoy the difficult parts of the tracks — like the skills section which includes a see-saw ramp and mini hills.

“It helps us learn new things.”

Kaiti classes are rostered to use the bike tracks twice a week. Students are permitted to use the track at lunch time, but only if they follow school rules.

The track has not come without a few scrapes and bruises though, says Mrs Potaka-Ayton.

“The first aid ladies have informed me they have officially run out of plasters.”

THE bike tracks at Kaiti School are a result of 18 months work by a range of different community groups and figures.

It all started when Gisborne Cycle Tour Company owner Katrina Duncan learned about the Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust, Bikes in Schools initiative in 2014 — a nationwide project started by the trust that aims to make sure all Kiwi kids can ride a bike regularly within school.

Ms Duncan brought the idea back to Gisborne. From there, submissions were made during the 2015 long-term plan consultation process to secure funding.

Now Kaiti School has become the first in the region to have three completed bike tracks.

Usually the trust works with one school at a time. The plan for Gisborne is to have tracks in at least 20 schools, partly funded through $500,000 allocated to the project via the Gisborne District Council’s $12 million active transport priorities fund.

Over the next 10 years, GDC will release $50,000 a year from the fund towards the project.

The GDC money, alongside further community trust funding, donations and school contributions, will be administered via the CONNEXT Trust.

CONNEXT is a new body in Gisborne made up of local leaders representing the council, iwi, health, sport, schools and businesses. It aims to support projects that improve the health and well-being of young people.

Bikes in schools is fantastic

Founder of Bike On NZ Paul McArdle says seeing Bikes in Schools become a reality in Gisborne is “absolutely fantastic”.

“The Kaiti School track is the first of many. Gisborne has taken the Bikes in Schools template and come together as a community — it is just amazing.”

As part of the initiative, each school will also be supplied with a fleet of bikes and a helmet for each student.

Kaiti School parent Jason McIntosh says this has already benefited the students.

“My son Lazarus has his own but for the Weet-Bix TRYathlon some students used the school’s bikes if they did not have one.

“I think it's really good, as not all kids have a bike. It means they don't miss out and everyone can have a go.”

Kaiti School received 50 bikes and tracks created by Fulton Hogan, a 480-metre riding track, a pump track and a skills track.

The cost to completely set up a school with bikes, tracks and helmets is around $60,000.

Principal Billie-Jean Potaka-Ayton says to ensure longevity, they have employed co-ordinators who have been trained to administer bike safety and bike skills programmes. Money is also set aside for bike maintenance.

“We are so happy. It has been a huge collective effort to get this finished and the kids love it.”

The official launch was yesterday, but Mrs Potaka-Ayton confessed the kids have been using the tracks for three weeks with some incredible results 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.”

Combating obesity

Aside from safety and confidence-building, one effect of the tracks is to help combat Gisborne’s alarming childhood obesity rates, which are the worst in the country at 21 percent, double the national average.

The co-ordinators were trained by Ms Duncan. She says biking is something children can safely and actively engage in.

“The smiles on their faces says it all. I am so stoked. The simplicity of this is why it is so effective. It is good healthy fun.”

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Brent Sheldrake says the tracks are a hard remedy to beat.

“We have made no secret about youth and youth health and wellbeing being a priority, and you cannot get much better than this. It is fantastic.”

The students agree.

Sol Bevins, 5, had the honour of cutting the tracks’ ribbon. It turns out the young daredevil has a need for speed.

“My favourite thing is going fast and overtaking people,” he says.

Fellow students Reece Tauroa and Scarlett Wylie, both 10, enjoy the difficult parts of the tracks — like the skills section which includes a see-saw ramp and mini hills.

“It helps us learn new things.”

Kaiti classes are rostered to use the bike tracks twice a week. Students are permitted to use the track at lunch time, but only if they follow school rules.

The track has not come without a few scrapes and bruises though, says Mrs Potaka-Ayton.

“The first aid ladies have informed me they have officially run out of plasters.”

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