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Projects // Don Buck Primary

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Projects // Don Buck Primary

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A portable pump track shared between four schools in West Auckland is helping children enjoy school time more, and gives their schools a valuable shared recreational resource.

Don Buck Primary School board member and parent Olga Mills first noticed a ParkLife modular pumptrack for bikes, scooters and skateboards at the Henderson Massey Local Board Offices, and saw how popular it was.

She started to wonder what could be done to offer more to children in the neighbouring Massey suburb, where that type of recreational facility was thinner on the ground.

“It got me thinking about what we might be able to do for children in our area, and why not try to get one of these tracks for them to use?”

But Olga was conscious that there is always a risk that providing such an asset for kids to use could also result in them getting bored with it, and after a few months it languishes unused and wasted.

“Having that ‘novelty’ factor is quite important for kids these days, and it’s also a question a potential funder has to ask – ‘will this facility get a good level of constant use over its lifetime’?”

The Don Buck Primary School board agreed the idea to seek funding for a modular pumptrack was a good one, and that the idea of sharing a funded track among the four local schools would be a way to maximise its reach across the community.

Rotating it around schools would also help retain a level of novelty to keep kids coming back to ride on it frequently.

“We ended up getting all four local schools on board, Don Buck, Birdwood, Lincoln Heights and Massey Primary.”

Getting in touch with track suppliers ParkLife and working with director Sally Farmer, they decided to opt for the easily erected intermediate rhythm straight pumptrack. Its 29m length it was relatively quick to assemble, good for all children to ride on, and easily transported between the schools.

Olga approached Transpower as a funder, and was pleasantly surprised after following the application process when the electricity distributor provided 100% funding for the track.

“Transpower, via their Community Care Fund assist communities where their assets (pylons, lines and substations) are based by investing and supporting community based projects. The track is appealing because of its ability to be moved between schools and from a funder’s perspective it will serve many children across the community.”

The track was funded, sourced and erected in time for the first term 2019 kicking off at Don Buck Primary School, and Olga admits some trepidation when school opened for Term 1.

“The track requires some concentration to ride upon, and you do have to put some energy into riding on it. Initially I was concerned that not as many children as expected were using it.

“We found that not having bikes nor helmets was a barrier. But through some generous donations from both the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund and Bike Barn those barriers were eliminated, and soon the track filled up with school kids keen to test their track skills.

“There were plenty of kids on it by later in the term, riding bikes, scooters and skateboards.

“It has also been really interesting seeing the track’s value in engaging kids who may not really be that keen to be at school - if they like coming to ride on the track, then the whole school experience is more positive, and that has to be a good thing.”

From schools the track gets a thumbs up for its robustness and its portability.

“For me, and from a board perspective the track is a real asset – that ability to share it is something funders really appreciate, they see that the use is constant and ongoing as children come back to it.”

Olga said the open, flexible approach ParkLife have towards track configurations means there is ‘something for everyone’ in terms of track type, the area it can fit into, and the budget available for such an asset.

“And it is certainly safer than some of the dedicated skate bowls around – this has been well suited to the age of the children who are using it in primary-intermediate school.”

 

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