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Active Communities Projects in New Zealand


A Taranaki pilot project to teach pre-school children the skills they need to ride a bike independently has been given the green light after securing Active Communities funding from Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC).
The pilot is one of six projects awarded Active Communities investment by SPARC. All six projects involve collaborations between different funding partners who have come up with new and interesting ways to get communities involved in sport and recreation.
In Taranaki, the New Plymouth District Council, BikeNZ and Sport Taranaki have joined forces to teach children the skills to ride a bike over a five-week course. Parents and caregivers will be given information about local cycle clubs and equipment such as child seats and trailers, while also being provided with information about pathways and cycle lanes in their area. At the end of the pilot, a toolkit of training resources will be made available throughout New Zealand and internationally so that other communities can run similar courses for pre-schoolers.
New Plymouth has gained New Zealand Transport Authority funding to become a walking and cycling model community. The Let's Go model community project has funding for two years which is aimed at making walking and cycling the easiest transport choice for people in the area.
New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven says the Let's Go project has created a unique opportunity to push for increased participation in cycling and that is where SPARC's Active Communities funding has been targeted.
"If we can provide young kids with the opportunity to learn the skills they need to ride a bike, and ride it well, then we'll set them up for what could be a love of cycling they'll have all their lives. They will then be able to ride their bikes to school, cycle with their families and later take part in club cycling and other events," Mr Duynhoven says.
"Without this funding from SPARC, we wouldn’t have been able to press ahead with it. With SPARC’s support, we'll be able to fully trial the training programme, develop a best practice toolkit and see this rolled out by BikeNZ around the country and internationally," he says.
SPARC Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says Active Communities funding has also gone to hubs with shared facilities, projects aimed at keeping school leavers involved in sport and recreation, as well as initiatives in areas where there is low participation in sport and recreation.
Just over $3 million over three years has been invested by SPARC and other funders collaborating together on Active Communities projects.
The other initiatives which have secured SPARC Active Communities investment are:
- Programmes to increase participation in ocean water sports, using a new shared facility in Wellington. There are plans to teach children a range of skills from learning how to paddle a waka and sail a yacht, to competing in a triathlon.
- Another project targets young adults aged 16 to 20 years, an age group where young people do sometimes drop out of sport and recreation after leaving school. In four low socioeconomic areas in Rotorua, there will be free sport and recreation activities at parks and reserves targeting that age group. This means they will be able to participate in sport and recreation activities without costly fees or transport to organise.
- In west Auckland a regional cycling hub is being created at the Auckland Council-owned Te Rangi Hiroa/Birdwood Reserve. Mountain bike tracks will be developed and the existing BMX track and skills park upgraded. The reserve is ideally located as a base point for road cycling in the Waitakere Ranges.
- In the Far North, a multi-purpose sports hub is being developed at Lindvart Park, Kaikohe where sport and recreation competitions, training and activities for a number of different sport codes will be run to get more young people and adults engaged in sport and recreation.
- In Nelson/Tasman district, there is an initiative to get more adults walking, running and cycling. Part of the plan revolves around entry level introductory programmes – including for learning cycling skills, monthly guided walks and rides, and a workplace initiative called Ride and Stride to get people on their feet or bikes. The aim is to give people more skills so they can go from entry level activities to club-based competitive participation so they can improve performance and enjoy new challenges.

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