Thrills aplenty on school fly­ing fox

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

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.

Photo: ABBY BROWN

THRILLING FOX: Lucy Saito, 9, rides the fly­ing fox, which Paul Don­der­winkel in­stalled, while Seth Schuler, 8, waits for a turn.

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