Getting to school this year will mean much more for students at Teesdale Primary than just sitting in a car and being dropped at the gate. They are walking, riding, balancing or perhaps jumping or cart-wheeling to school along an activity trail recently constructed by Golden Plains Shire.
It is based on consultation that we did with the Teesdale community with David Engwicht as part of the 'Golden Streets' project, and on discussions with an enthusiastic team of grade 4, 5 and 6 students who presented their ideas for the trail, and came up with some great ideas that I never would have thought of.
They were really keen to create a trail that is exciting and fun, and wanted to see it evoke the ‘spirit of Teesdale’. They suggested that it tell a story about the Eastern Long-necked Turtle, and have turtle sculptures along the path that you could play on.
They also understood that walking to school has some great benefits – you get some exercise, you get an opportunity to relate to the environment and the community, and that it means less traffic around the school at pick-up time.
According to Environment Victoria around 40% of car trips in Melbourne are less than 2km. And nearly 80% of children who live less than 2km from their school are driven both ways every day.
Walking or cycling to school instead keeps you active, contributes to the fight against health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease, reduces pollution and waste and helps connect with community & the environment.. And its a great way to start the day!
The concept plans for the trail have been hailed by health promotion charity Victoria Walks as an innovative solution, one that dovetails with their Smart Steps program.
Teesdale Primary School Principal Tony Gove and teacher Melissa O’Toole were pleased that the children were engaged and excited by the chance to leave a legacy and contribute to a project in a public space.
The project is part of state government funding for works that improve the streetscape and town centre experience in Haddon, Rokewood, Teesdale and Meredith.
With the completion of improvements to footpaths, drainage and the car park near the shop in Teesdale constructing a ‘meeting place’ with visitor and recreation facilities, the activity trail linking Turtle Bend, meeting place and the school and facilitating community placemaking projects such as art works.
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Grants are currently available for $25,000 - $50,000 for similar projects through the Victoria Walks 'Park and Walk Grants' scheme, closing on July 24 2015. For more details go to Park and Walk Grants.