Walk­ers earn points

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By LAURA MCLEAY

Mata­mata Pri­mary School is en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to get out their walk­ing shoes and travel to school on foot.

An ini­tia­tive, sup­ported by Sport Waikato, the po­lice and Mata­mataPi­ako District Coun­cil, re­wards chil­dren who walk to school with points on a Walk to School Travel Card.

Since the start of the term, 150 chil­dren have reg­is­tered to walk to school. Forty nine have so far walked 25 times and 12 have walked 50 times or more. Mata­mata Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Carolyn Os­borne said they had a num­ber of stu­dents who wanted to walk which was a healthy al­ter­na­tive to com­ing by car.

‘‘Chil­dren here are walk­ing to school and this is a great achieve­ment con­sid­er­ing this is the win­ter term and the last thing many peo­ple want to do is get out and walk in the cold,’’ she said.

‘‘Some chil­dren who live out of town are even ask­ing their par­ents to drop them away from school so they can take part and earn points for walk­ing.’’ Mata­mata Pri­mary stu­dent Gabrielle Raynel, 10, said she loved walk­ing to school, even though she got sore legs some­times.

‘‘I have walked to school over 75 times now,’’ she said.

Walk­ing to school helps chil­dren learn about road rules to en­sure they know how to walk safely by them­selves later in life. Mata­mata Pri­mary also has a walk­ing school bus each Wed­nes­day morn­ing which has been a huge suc­cess over the past four years. ‘‘ It is a par­en­tor­gan­ised pro­gramme to get the stu­dents walk­ing,’’ Ms Os­borne said.

And just like the nor­mal school bus rou­tine – each stu­dent waits at their gate, hops on the walk­ing bus as they go past and heads to school in style. ‘‘ We had done a re­view within the school about phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and we were not so good at ac­tive trans­port. We thought, right, we would start ini­tia­tives and lessen the chaos at the gate. ‘‘ We wanted to look at a pos­i­tive way we could de­velop more ac­tive trans­port.’’ The Walk­ing School Bus started in Otago and caught on around New Zealand. Mata­mata Pri­mary is cur­rently the only school us­ing the Walk to School Travel Card but know it will catch on at other schools soon.

On the go: From left, Gabrielle Raynel, 10, and Sarai Gold, 7, with their Walk to School Travel Cards.

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