Hundreds of Greenpark School pupils are helping to free up our roads by joining a rewards scheme to keep children safe during the busy 3pm pick-up time.
The initiative called Active Travel involves the school, NZ Police, and Tauranga City Council's Travel Safe teams working together.
Active Travel began at the start of Term 4 and has proved instantly popular with pupils and parents, with 300 students already registered.
Pupils who walk, bike or scooter home from school receive a house points concession card which links to rewards. Another part of the initiative, Park & Stride, supports pupils by offering safe walking sessions to and from areas near to school. Parents are encouraged to park short distances of 500m and walk to collect their children from school. Pupils registered with the programme are also released five minutes early.
The Kids Can Ride programme has been delivering cycle skills to Year 5 and 6 pupils. Years 0 – 4 have had road safety education with Reuben the Road Safety Bear, Dan the Puppet-man and safe walking practical sessions with NZ Police and Travel Safe.
Greenpark Principal Gareth Scholes has noticed less congestion outside the school gates this term, and would like more families to register their children in the programme. "There really shouldn't be a need to pile on top of each other at the school gate at 3pm, jeopardizing the safety of children."
"The support we've had from parents for Active Travel so far has been great, as have the results. We have fewer carbon emissions around the school gate, and healthier active children with better road safety awareness skills. It's a win-win situation for all.
"Thank you to the families already signed up, and I hope more families join in - we're keen for the programmes to become part of our school culture and not just a short term novelty."
Drivers also needed to be hyper-aware of following the road rules around school pick up times.
During the safe walking sessions Constable Emma Buxton from NZ Police was concerned about the amount of drivers who did not stop for children waiting to cross at the pedestrian crossing on Argyll Rd.
"Drivers must always stop and give way to children waiting to cross at a pedestrian crossing. Children are easily distracted and can be unpredictable, so how you drive makes a difference."