Chil­dren em­brace the great oudoors

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

A chal­lenge was taken up by Whaka­maru school stu­dents to utilise what was in their own ‘‘back­yards’’.

As a part of the Wil­liam Pike Chal­lenge Award, some of the intermediate stu­dents took on a 12-kilo­me­tre Waikato river trail.

Prin­ci­pal Jill McArthur said get­ting ac­tive has im­proved the chil­dren’s at­ti­tudes. ‘‘There is a dif­fer­ence in re­la­tion­ships with the chil­dren.’’

Eleven- year- old Maia Doig en­joyed the chal­lenge. ‘‘ We’re do­ing some­thing we’ve never done be­fore,’’ she said

There were 65 chil­dren from five Waikato schools who tramped the Whaka­maru-based trail with Pike.

Pike said the Marae­tai sec­tion was cho­sen so the chil­dren could use their own sur­round­ings.

‘‘ We are pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to en­gage in an ac­tive and healthy life­style, and giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with lo­cal places and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,’’ he said.

The school-based pro­gramme was de­signed to push stu­dents to achieve.

Pike said he used a com­bi­na­tion of his love for teach­ing and the out­doors, build­ing on his own ex­pe­ri­ence as an am­putee.

The for­mer pri­mary school teacher had his right leg am­pu­tated af­ter he was caught in the 2007 Mt Ruapehu erup­tion.

But his disability has never stopped him. ‘‘I go for three or four- hour tramps with some breaks,’’ he said.

For the past four years, he has mo­ti­vated stu­dents us­ing the out­doors and recog­nised their achieve­ments.

Stu­dents re­ceive a cer­tifi­cate when they have com­pleted the pro­gramme.

Pike said the num­ber of schools has al­most dou­bled since last year with 30 now signed up.

BEAU­TI­FUL DAY: Whaka­maru stu­dents en­joy sights along the walk.

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