Thrills aplenty on school flying fox
A flying fox installed by the school’s chairman, and father to three students, has provided plenty of thrills for students and so far, no spills.
‘‘Putting children out of their comfort zone and providing them with thrills and spills, within reason, is a good thing,’’ Paul Donderwinkel said.
The flying fox was on the Donderwinkel’s farm and came with the family when they moved into town. Donderwinkel, who has engineering experience, decided to install it in the playground of his children’s school.
He approached St Joseph’s Catholic School principal Yvonne Marshall, who checked that the other board members were OK with it. It fit with her philosophy of letting children explore their boundaries in a relatively safe environment, he said. ‘‘She lets the students climb trees.’’
He felt not wrapping children in cotton wool and letting them get outside of their comfort zone could have long-term benefits.
As a father of three boys, Donderwinkel said he knows the necessity of keeping young people busy. He also felt that the flying fox could help children, especially boys with ‘‘a lot of testosterone flying around in their bodies’’, to burn off their energy and focus better in class.
Donderwinkel has made the fox lockable so it can’t be used outside of school hours.
THRILLING FOX: Lucy Saito, 9, rides the flying fox, which Paul Donderwinkel installed, while Seth Schuler, 8, waits for a turn.