Greater Wellington Regional Council’s annual challenge to families to be active on their journey to school gets more popular every year.
Sixty schools, compared to 49 last year, took part in this year’s Movin’March, a month long celebration of active travel to school run by the Council’s Sustainable Transport team. The prize giving for the event was held recently, when students returned to school after the first term break.
A new feature this year was the WoW (Walk or Wheel) Passport Challenge. Students logged their active transport trips in a passport which they then entered into a random prize draw to win one of two Merida bicycles. Almost 2000 students from throughout the region entered the draw. The lucky winners were Ayush Chand from Karori West Normal School and Evie Hawkins from St Patrick’s School in Masterton.
St Anthony’s School in Seatoun won a bike rack prize for the most student entries based on percentage of total school roll.
Maungaraki School parent Debbie Carter supervised road patrol during the event and noted a big reduction in traffic congestion around the Lower Hutt school and shopping centre, which made the area much safer for the children.
She’d like to see that trend continue. “Walking in groups would be a wonderful way for the children to make new friends and get to know other kids they already know, even better. Parents too can develop better relationships with other children and their families.”
Debbie said the exercise not only helps students’ mental health and well-being, it has benefits in the classroom too. “Happier, clear-headed students are great for our teachers.”
Teachers surveyed agreed that Movin’March had a positive effect on how students travelled to school, with more walking and wheeling, and fewer taking the trip by car.
About 170 parents completed a Movin’March feedback survey. More than a third reported that their child/children started walking or wheeling to school during Movin’March instead of going by car. A further 12% said it triggered discussion about transport options for the future, when their children are older.