Move60 bike boost to college student
She never learnt to ride a bike, has rheumatic fever, and didn’t really like exercise, but then Ashleigh Thomson- Eyre met Sarah Walker.
Ashleigh, 13, from Cannons Creek, was chosen to be part of the Move60 initiative, designed to encourage teens to be active for 60 minutes a day.
While obesity rates in New Zealand are the highest they have ever been, teens such as Ashleigh are learning the joy of an old-fashioned bike ride.
In March, Olympic silver medal- winning BMX rider Sarah Walker hosted more than 100 teens at Te Ruaparaha Arena, where they were gifted bikes courtesy of Move60. The programme, run by Coca-Cola in partnership with BikeNZ and the Foundation for Youth Development, aims to inspire 100,000 teens to get moving by 2020.
Ashleigh had never owned a bike and was excited about being chosen.
‘‘I felt pretty stin,k all my friends had a bike and I didn’t,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m still not that confident but I know how to ride.’’
Between Ashleigh and her three siblings, the bike is well used.
‘‘If I keep going I’ll get skinny. It’s good fitness. It really works.’’
Her mother, Tina- Marie Thompson, said she was proud of her daughter, who had been sick with rheumatic fever as a child.
‘‘ Up until that time she’d never been interested.
‘‘I was excited for her,’’ she said.
She now hoped to buy her older son a bike so the two could ride to Mana College together.
‘‘They are very close to each other so having something in common helps.’’
Earlier this year, an international study revealed New Zealanders have a higher rate of obesity than Australians, with two thirds of adults classed as obese or overweight.
Childhood obesity rates have also increased since 1980, rising to 29 per cent from 18 per cent.