Sport Northland's approach to getting more Northlanders active through using the community-led principle is paying off, with the work being done by students at Moerewa Primary School a prime example.
At its heart, the community-led principle helps the communities and organisations that we work with to help themselves. Sport Northland believes that any physical activity participation gains will be much more sustainable if they are "owned and operated" by those people who stand to benefit from them.
In this case, the beneficiaries are definitely Moerewa students. They are also the owners and operators of a "Bike Crew" initiative which was an idea they led and developed themselves.
A group of enthusiastic and passionate students came up with the idea of forming a bike group at the school and, after some guidance and help from teachers, the Moerewa School Bike Crew was established.
After support with the initial planning, the group set about checking all of the school bikes and made a list of parts they would need to get them all up to standard. They checked tyre pressure, fixed punctures, replaced tyre tubes, adjusted bike seats, checked brakes and oiled chains.
From there, the students created a bike licence course and checklist that they tested on each other, graduating as "Bike Officers". Next, they tested each student who wished to participate in the bike riding kaupapa and issued them with bike licences, which demonstrated that they were confident, capable and understood the safety aspects required when riding outdoors.
Drafting a list of things that are needed for bike riding was next on the list for the Crew. Top of the list was a permission slip that all participants took home to their parents.
Other considerations were bike maintenance (puncture repair kit, bike pump, spare tubes), helmets, appropriate clothing, food, water and the consideration of external elements such as the length of the ride and the weather.
Once all this preparation work was completed, the Moerewa School Bike Crew were ready to ride. In term 4, they began bike riding every second Friday. Bikes were loaded securely on to the school trailer to be towed by the school van, then the crew set off riding from Ōpua to Kawakawa and back. The next ride was a journey from Kaikohe riding halfway to Ōkaihau and back.
Future goals include continuing to get more students through the bike riding kaupapa and out onto the cycle trail. Safety, of course, will remain the main focus.
This example exemplifies the community-led principle, with the students creating and developing their own idea and then being the ones to encourage other students to participate.
It also demonstrates how young people need to have a say in what activities they participate in – young people have voices of their own, and it is implicit on adults to use their ears to listen to them, rather than thinking they know what they want.
Ka pai, Moerewa School Bike Crew!