School gets its very own bike track

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

The South Waikato is rapidly be­com­ing known as a cy­cling des­ti­na­tion and Toko­roa Cen­tral School is now on track with it too.

As part of the Bikes in Schools Pro­gramme, which aims to pro­vide school chil­dren with the op­por­tu­nity to ride a bike on a reg­u­lar and equal ba­sis at school, the school cel­e­brated the open­ing of its very own bike track on Thurs­day.

Prin­ci­pal Deb­bie Fol­las said the track is al­most 400 me­tres long which makes it the long­est track of its kind in the North Is­land.

‘‘It’s been a year in the mak­ing and it’s the first of three stages which is very ex­cit­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘The next track will be a pump track, which is like a mini BMX track, and the other will be a skills track where they will go through things.’’

‘‘There is one in Pu­taruru but this is the only one in Toko­roa so we feel very blessed,’’ she said.

Fol­las said she read about the pro­gramme in 2015 and af­ter telling the school’s board and staff about the ben­e­fits they quickly came on board.

‘‘What was ex­cit­ing about this pro­gramme was the feed­back from other prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, and par­ents who had run the pro­gramme in their schools,’’ she said.

‘‘They said it raised the con­fi­dence and self es­teem of pupils, de­liv­ered health and well­be­ing out­comes, pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to self man­age risks in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, an en­vi­ron­men­tal friendly form of trans­port, re­sulted in chil­dren and ex­tended fam­ily bik­ing more of­ten, and pupils gained knowl­edge, skills, con­fi­dence to ride safely when rid­ing out­side the school area.’’

‘‘Our board and staff recog­nised that these were all things that we were want­ing for our tamariki (chil­dren) here at Toko­roa Cen­tral School,’’ she said.

Through var­i­ous grants the school has also been able to buy 50 bikes, 100 hel­mets and a con­tainer to keep them all in so the chil­dren can utilise the track.

Kau­matua Ho­mai Uer­ata blessed the track which he de­scribed as a pos­i­tive for the school.

‘‘This is some­thing very special to a school,’’ he said.

Fol­las said the school would like to thank all those who have helped along the way.

Over 70 New Zealand schools take part in the pro­gramme.

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