The first Wairarapa Bikes in School track that opened at Lakeview School today -- complete with more than 50 cycles and safety gear -- was bought and built through staff, pupils and the school community.
Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson was to attend the opening with Kiwi Commonwealth Games gold medallist cyclist Alison Shanks and other dignitaries from the wider school community and iwi.
Deputy principal Gene Bartlett said the project had been in the pipeline since May last year when the school took up the idea at a meeting, to which many Wairarapa schools had been invited, that was led by Bikes in School founder Paul McCardle.
Mr McCardle outlined the aims, benefits, and costs of the scheme, which also involved the Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust that helped establish the programme at 30 schools across New Zealand.
Bikes in Schools was first rolled out in Hawke's Bay in 2010 and its main aim was "to enable all New Zealand children to ride a bike on a regular and equal basis".
The scheme at Lakeview School included a fleet of 50 new mountain bikes of varying sizes, three tricycles, and bike helmets. The scheme was for Year 7 pupils and older and also featured a combination track and a bike storage facility.
A qualified bike coach will lead the programme and teach basic riding skills to pupils to help foster better health, fitness, confidence, self-esteem, and classroom focus.
The construction of the Lakeview School track -- featuring a 540m loop, the pump exercise track, and a skills track -- started last October and was completed in March.
Mr Bartlett said the project had raised more than $50,000 and fundraising had begun with a successful PledgeMe video online with major contributors including a $10,000 donation from each of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Regional Public Health and Ellis-lea Farms, involving a donor who had a grand-daughter attending the decile 2 school.
Other major contributors that had donated funds, work hours, skills or materials included Bikes in Schools, Wairarapa Road Safety Council, James Hume and Bernie Sladden of BJ Sladden Contracting, Trust House, The Sign Factory, Rotary club members in the town, Masterton District Council, and Smokefree Aotearoa.
A group of organisations, individuals and firms that sponsored cycles included Performance Decorators, Luke Myster, Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa, Trails Wairarapa Trust, Connecting Communities, and the school PTA.
"There's been zero cost to the school. We managed to get enough sponsorship. Pretty much the board had earmarked $1000 for the project and we haven't touched it because that was the goal.
"We wanted to show that this could be done if you connect with your community, that if a decile 2 school can do this, any school can."
Mr Bartlett said the tricycles were bought for pupils with disabilities and seniors at the school, which had a roll of 418 pupils, had already used the bicycles to travel to elective activities throughout the town. There were also plans to take a student cycle tour to a Wairarapa beach and back.
"Every Tuesday the seniors have been going out and about in the community on their bikes and it's been awesome.
"That's the purpose of the bikes too, it's not solely for the tracks but to get them outside of school and ride the roads and trails out there."
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