Making change starts at Home

Making change starts at Home

Projects Coordinator Holly Hullena caught up with busy Masterton Mum, Jenny Tyer and her son Cameron to find out about an exciting learning process that eventuated to creating a journey to learning.

Holly: How long has Cam been riding to school by himself?
Jenny: Since the start of this school year.

Holly: How do you feel about him heading off to and from school independently?
I think it’s a little nerve wracking for any parent the first time you let them go off on their own, but I trust that I have prepared him as much as I can, and Cameron has shown that he has developed a good understanding of cycle safety and the importance of keeping himself safe on the road.

Holly: What do you think triggered the idea around getting him to cycle to school?
We are fortunate to live close enough to school so that biking is possible so my thinking was if we can, we should! It was also to help develop a sense of independence for Cameron too.

Holly: How did you go about getting him ready?
We spent much of 2017 going for bike rides on the weekend.  It started with biking the route to school and home again with me instructing Cameron along the way, identifying possible hazards, how to overcome them, basic road rules, safe places or sign posts to stop at to check for traffic at certain intersections, plus safe places to get help if he was ever in need of it on the way to or from school. Then we progressed to Cameron leading me on the rides and showing that he was confident and capable of managing the ride easily.

Holly: Were there any particular challenges you were worried about or that came up on the way?
A couple of busy intersections, plus a narrow road that cars tend to go quite fast down were my biggest concerns, but that’s why we took our time last year so that both of us were confident Cameron knew how to best handle them.  Oh and the fact he now thinks he needs a cell phone in case he needs to get hold of me – that’s been a challenge!!!

Holly: What are the benefits that you have found from Cam getting himself to school? Is there any follow on benefits that you have found for you?
His sense of independence has grown and he now bikes further afield than just school, also it’s been great for his problem solving skills.  He’s had a puncture and a minor fall of his own making but he has managed to sort these things for himself (without the help of a cell phone so that Mum can fix it!)  That said, part of our ‘training’ included those safe places where he knew people along the way whose place he could go to for help if he was really stuck and they could contact me.
 For me, it’s great to see Cam becoming confident in his abilities and taking the initiative of wanting to do more….and it allows me a wee bit of extra time each day not having to do the school runs, so it’s win-win.

Holly: What would your advice be to parents that are on the fence about letting their kids travel by themselves to school?
I think preparation is key, take the time to ride with your kids if you can, on weekends, during holidays – where ever you can fit it in (and I appreciate that isn’t always easy), talk about hazards, their responsibilities on the road to other road users, and if possible, line up a ‘safe place’ they can go if there is ever a problem.  Always model road safety when you are riding with them, that’s important too.  In the end it does boil down to trust, trust in your child that they are ready, and trust in yourself that you have prepared them well.

Holly: What do you think the culture is around active travel at school? Is this a conversation that the school tries to start up with their families?
Yes I believe it is.  It’s great to see kids either walking or biking to school, but it’s not always possible for a variety of reasons.  But if it is a possible option for your family, I think there are so many benefits to both parent and child that go beyond just the act of biking to school.

 Do you have a story that could inspire others around road safety? Email Holly

Wednesday 11th of April 2018

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