A primary school in Craigavon is thinking outside the box in order to improve the health of their pupils, save money and protect the local environment. The pupils have been cycling to and from swimming classes and sporting events instead of using their traditional form of transport, the school bus.
Pupils from Tullygally Primary school cycling on the Craigavon Community Greenway, locally known as the black paths.
Cycling as a class for swimming and sporting events
Pupils from Tullygally Primary School have been cycling to and from swimming classes and sporting events instead of relying on the school bus.
The change has been made under the guidance of Primary 7 teacher Mr. John O’Hagan, and with strong support from staff and parents.
Cycle paths leading from the school gates give the opportunity for the local community to leave their vehicles behind and walk or cycle on the extensive Craigavon Community Greenway (locally known as the black paths).
The route helps to link local residents with the area's parks, schools, community hubs, churches, shops, leisure centre and sports clubs.
Funding used to purchase bikes and equipment
To help pupils make these journeys, Mr. O’Hagan sourced funding to purchase 30 refurbished bikes, helmets and a storage facility.
Mr. O'Hagan explained:
"Each bike and helmet is named after a different county on the island of Ireland so that pupils know which bike they have been getting used to riding.
"Some of the pupils weren’t confident at riding their bikes at first but when we loaned them out to pupils over a weekend it really helped them to improve their skills."
Reducing congestion and protecting air quality
Local Sustrans Schools Officer Dave Wiggins recently joined Mr. O’Hagan and the pupils for a cycle to South Lakes Leisure Centre.
He was very impressed by what he saw, saying:
"It was brilliant to see the pupils and teachers using bicycles to travel to the leisure centre instead of hiring a bus.
"It is a great opportunity for the pupils to explore their local area, get some fresh air, improve their health and develop their independent travel skills.
"Central Craigavon is a very busy area for traffic and projects like this help to reduce congestion and protect the air quality as much as possible.
"I don’t know of any other school where a whole class can use bicycles to travel for swimming lessons and other activities and the school should be highly commended for their effort."
Pupils from Tullygally Primary School cycle to the nearby leisure centre rather than using the school bus.
Tullygally Primary started working with Sustrans as part of the Active School Travel Programme in 2014.
Since then, the school has seen a noticeable increase in the number of children making healthy, active journeys to school, making active travel a part of the school culture.