Otonga Primary School students are taking part in a Rotorua Lakes Council iniative encouraging active transport modes, promoting healthy lifestyles and sustainability.
It will be the second year the school has participated in Ara kē atu, which means “an alternative pathway”.
The local challenge is a way for schools to encourage independence and resilience in tamariki through active ways of getting around such as biking, walking, scootering, skating and use of alternative transport like buses.
Otonga Primary School Principal, Gareth Cunliffe says the school fully supports the programme and has seen first-hand the impact active modes have on tamariki and their whānau.
“We’ve seen a steady increase among our school community opting for active transport modes, introducing our students to sustainable travel in an achievable way,” he says.
“The fact that our students are allowed to ride their bikes, skate, scooter, rollerblade etc. at school now has been a game changer. It’s fun, keeps them active and supports our Healthy Active Learning and Learning Through Play Pedagogy.
“As part of our commitment to promoting sustainable transport, we recently hosted a ‘pimp my paihikara (bike)’ day, encouraging tamariki to decorate their bikes, ride to school and join in the activities.
“We’ve had a great turnout – it’s so awesome to see our tamariki and their parents and caregivers get behind Ara kē atu – the kids loved being supported by their kaiako (teachers) and Ruru the road safety owl.”
Mr Cunliffe says the school was thankful to Rotorua Lakes Council for running road safety programmes and supporting requests for traffic calming in their area.
Council’s Bikes in Schools facilitator, Georgie Griffiths provides support to schools for Active Travel Planning and the setup of bikes and tracks.
She says the ‘pimp my paihikara’ event, which included the Council’s bike ramps, giveaways and a visit from Ruru, was well received.
“We’re proud of Otonga School who have got stuck in with a School Travel Plan, committing to reducing car usage, promoting active alternatives and supporting the development of safe routes to and from school,” Ms Griffiths says.
“Our surveys show that 75% of kids and their whānau would like to use active transport to get to school.
“We encourage schools that are interested in getting more students walking and cycling to kura to get in touch with us.”
If your school is interested in getting involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.