Walkers earn points
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.