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Greenacres School

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We shared our goals with the wider Tawa community and invited local community groups and organisations to be involved in our promotional initiatives.

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Vision statement – physical activity

“We value and promote physical activity as an integral part of our school culture by providing a variety of high-quality physical opportunities for all students.”

Aim/Focus: Co-Curricular

  • To promote active transport with flow-on effects to physical fitness and well-being, road sense awareness and practice. 

Background

  • Contributing primary; School roll – 199; 12 teachers
  • Students – 73% NZ European/Pākehā, 12% Māori, 5% Samoan, 1% Asian, 1% Fijian, and 8% other nationalities
  • 29% of students walk regularly to school 
  • Collapse of the Walking to School Bus in 2006 due to lack of interest and support
  • Increasing traffic congestion at the school gate
  • Illegal parking habits of the community, creating major hazards for pedestrians
  • Declining fitness levels of students highlighted during walking to swimming in term 1, 2007
  • Unsafe walking tracks at the school’s secondary access points through council reserve land affecting 20% of students (12 out of 60 students) who could potentially access the school from this geographical area.

Process undertaken

The physical education / physical activity (PE/PA) team met in 2006 to consider the possible opportunities to further promote physical activity opportunities for Greenacres School students and their community.

We gathered data to identify how many students used active transport and the reasons why other students did not. We identified the need to actively promote walking as a form of quality physical activity and a way of addressing issues around both access points to our school. We created an action plan and developed steps to address these issues.

Action 1: Walking Tuesdays

We held discussions with parents and students on the value and importance of walking and raised the profile of its benefits, not only for physical fitness and well-being, but also for traffic sense awareness and practice. This was supported through our weekly newsletters and on our website.

Action 2: Involvement in Feet First campaign

This allowed us to use a national campaign to strengthen our promotion of walking to school and link with other outside agencies such as Land Transport New Zealand and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. After this initiative, we surveyed students. Results clearly identified that only one of the two access points into the school was being utilised by most students, adding to the congestion problem at the school gate.

Action 3: Upgrading our walking tracks

Student consultation highlighted that the back track was more convenient, but far less suitable for use due to its undesirable condition. Only 20% of the population that could potentially use this as their most convenient access point was accessing the school at this point. This led us to contact Wellington City Council and to discuss the issue with its Transport Safety Education Officer and members of the Parks and Gardens team.

Action 4: Promoting of active transport with the wider community

We shared our goals with the wider Tawa community and invited local community groups and organisations, with a physically active focus, to be involved in our promotional initiatives. This meant they could support our initiative and promote their businesses at the same time.

Outcomes

  • 61% (122 students) now walk to school on a daily basis – a 32% increase since the initiative began in 2006. 
  • Wellington City Council agreed to upgrade reserve land which is the secondary access point to the school. We established a working relationship with the Wellington City Council to ensure that the reserve land continues to be maintained to a satisfactory level.
  • Three successful Walk to School parties were held in 2007. These involved greeting students as they arrived at school, providing a range of physical activities to engage in, and support with spot prizes and special guests.
  • There has been improvement in illegal parking behaviours of the local community. The number of reported parking offences has drastically reduced since the initiative began in 2006 (13 in December 2006, 0 to date in 2007).
  • Fitness levels of students appear to have increased, as evident in the PE/PA programme and in the playground environment.
  • More parents appear to be walking to school, as reported by our Road Patrol Supervisor and staff.

Reflection

Successes

  • Walk to School parties – for raising interest and awareness. 
  • Involving our local City Councillor and the Wellington City Council.
  • Less congestion at the front gate.
  • More safe and usable entry point into the school.
  • Student voice included in decision-making process.
  • Greenacres School students being more accepting that walking is a part of the school culture, and becoming the norm.
  • Engaging the wider school community.

Barriers/Obstacles

  • Attitudes of staff, students, and parents towards walking. 
  • The poor quality of the secondary walking tracks.
  • Geographical proximity of students’ homes.
  • Lack of students’ fitness.
  • Parent/students' organisation skills in the morning to get to school on time.
  • Safety of students.

Next steps

Action 5: Sustainability – Leaving our footprint

Holding a meeting with parents and students to look at the issues and solutions around keeping the momentum going. For example:

  • Do we have enough interest to start new Walking School Buses? 
  • Is more of the community using the upgraded walking tracks?
  • Are we encouraging all students within one kilometre of the school to walk on a daily basis?
  • How will the school continue to celebrate and promote active transport, through newsletters, website and/or walking parties?

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