Ride to school and stay active

Eddie Barkla | Bendigo Weekly | 16-Mar-2012

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IN THE FRAME: Next Friday is Ride2School day.
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Friday, March 23 is the National Ride2School day when Australian students grab their wheels and ride to school, creating one of Australia’s largest celebrations of active participation.
It is anticipated more than 140,000 Australian kids at 1000 primary and secondary schools will participate.
Students and school communities across Australia will embrace a healthier start to the day.
National Ride2School Day is an opportunity to promote riding, scooting, skating and walking to school as a means of transport, which has proven health and wellbeing benefits.
It is the biggest day in the Bicycle Network’s Ride2School program calendar, and sees students in registered schools’ average riding rate increase to 48 per cent, more than double the national average.
Here in Bendigo, schools such as Spring Gully, White Hills, Epsom, St Monica’s Kangaroo Flat, Big Hill Golden Square, California Gully and Axedale primary schools have embraced this day with great enthusiasm.
Ride2School team manager Kelly Pearson said health authorities recommend children get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Riding, scooting, skating or walking to and from school is an easy way to achieve this.
“Children who develop a healthy, active lifestyle when they are young are much more likely to maintain those habits in adulthood,” she said.
“National Ride2School Day is a great way to celebrate being active.”
All schools are encouraged to sign-up at www.ride2school.com.au
White Hills principal Damien Jenkyn has the good fortune to have passionate bike-riding parents, Kingsley and Elizabeth Morse-McNabb.
Kingsley organised Bendigo Cycles to conduct a bike maintenance session for parents and students alike, to ensure intending participants have a roadworthy cycle and the skills to assess when their bike may be in need of maintenance.
Kingsley and Elizabeth have also arranged Free Wheeling Fridays in the lead-up to the Ride2School Day.
Adult chaperones meet up with students and parents at pick-up points along the linear trail that runs from Lake Weeroona to Epsom.
On the outskirts of Bendigo at Axedale, principal Lex Johnston is intending to use a section  of the O’Keefe Rail Trail for this popular annual activity.
With the upgrading and extension of the existing rail trail, Lex has realised the potential of this trail as being an additional recreational asset for his school.
He is planning to offer an active and healthy learning opportunity for Axedale students, well away from the busy roads and highways.
The Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have also been asked to assist the school with this Ride2School activity on the O’Keefe trail, which the Friends’ members know very well.
It is hoped the riding students will gain an appreciation of the trail facilities and its environment.
It also gives them a chance to become more aware of the friends group and its activities.
Friends convenor Garry Long said: “Not only will it be great to see the kids riding to school on the rail trail, we think this will also be a perfect opportunity to create our link with the school, and provide an update on the O’Keefe Rail Trail project.
“Also, we hope to talk about the vision of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail, a vision to build upon the O’Keefe trail and create a 100km long Bendigo to Kilmore Rail Trail.”
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.

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