Pupils and staff at St George’s Academy in Sleaford have been taking part in a ‘Bike Week’ initiative aimed at bringing about lifestyle changes and more.
The week-long programme is seeing them encouraged to use their bikes for planned activities which began on Monday.
The initiative has been in planning for some months and is a collaboration between Sustrans Schools Officer, Jon Moody and the academy’s staff led by Vice Principal, Rick Freeman.
Mr Moody said: “Over the last year we have worked closely with St George’s on several initiatives where we have encouraged staff and students to consider sustainable transport with some truly exciting results. The staff are extremely responsive to the need for behaviour change projects and are fully aware that they represent a community of collectively, almost 2,000 people whose actions and choices can have a significant effect on their local environment in many significant ways.
“This promotion of active travel is a really exciting prospect that the academy have embraced wholeheartedly.”
Activities planned for the week have included free bike health-checks and maintenance on Monday, a free healthy breakfast for cyclists yesterday (Wednesday) and there will be a skills demonstration and workshops from world class BMX rider, Joe–Elliot Sproat on Friday.
Also during the week, students will be given the opportunity to take part in fully funded advanced road safety training to National Standards Level 3 as well as being invited to take part in cycle maintenance workshops or to use the newly completed cycling leisure trail within the academy grounds.
Also on Friday, the staff get in on the act with their own biker breakfast for anyone cycling into work. Some will be riding more than 40 miles!
Mr Freeman said: ”We continue to encourage students to live healthy, active lifestyles. The opportunities that Jon Moody at Sustrans has brought to the Academy have allowed us to encourage students to pursue other forms of exercise that help to raise activity levels. We plan to roll the programme of events out across both campuses (Sleaford and Ruskington) next year.”
Although the focus of the week is very much towards fun and enjoyment, there are of course, many serious benefits to be gained from encouraging active travel and a healthy lifestyle among young people. Travelling to school or work by bike can be an easy way of including at least half an hour of exercise into our days with the much reported benefits to physical and mental health. In a large organisation such as St George’s academy, if even a relatively small percentage make changes and adopt active travel, there can be significant improvements locally in terms of traffic congestion and air quality, says Mr Moody.
Coun Lindsey Cawrey, Executive Board member of North Kesteven District Council for health and leisure, said: “Bike Week is a great initiative and it’s fantastic to see staff and pupils at St George’s Academy getting involved.
“Cycling is a great way of keeping fit and the free breakfast will show how easy it is to lead a healthy lifestyle with a balance of the right foods and activities.
“We as a council are committed to improving people’s health and wellbeing, our Sports and Physical Activity Strategy aims to encourage people to be more active more often. Events like this go a long way to achieving that.
“We have made multi-million opund investments into our sports centres in Sleaford and North Hykeham as well as supporting sportives in the area, demonstrating our commitment to cycling in the district and the health and wellbeing of our communities.
“I’m sure both staff and pupils at St George’s Academy will really feel the benefits of this week and hopefully it will inspire them to keep cycling.”
The staff at St George’s, together with Mr Moody, are planning future initiatives to include staff training to ensure that positive lifestyle and travel choices continue.