It was bright and early on Wednesday 20th June over in the West of Ireland when Travel Education Officer Imelda Ryan-Jones joined pupils, parents and teachers of Sooey NS in Co Sligo to celebrate National COW (Cycle on Wednesday). Families cycled for many kilometres from all directions to the school, and local gardaí vehicles accompanied the cyclists on the main R284 commuter route to do their bit to highlight and support the Sooey Cycle to School event. Ocean FM also made announcements both the day before National COW Day and during the morning itself, in order to draw attention to motorists that they would meet lots of families cycling to school that morning throughout Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, as well as cyclists participating in the National Cycle to Work day held during National Bike Week 2012.
Following cycle training in the school which involved both the senior pupils as well as the youngest children in the school, everyone got involved on the day. The youngest child to cycle all the way to school from her home was Marika Spoonenberg who is a junior infant pupil at the school. This was her first time to cycle this 3km journey as prior to this she has cycled with help from her mum, on a bicycle attached to her mother’s bike. As you will see from the following photos her family, including her big sister Rosie, and teacher, Shane Gately the Green-Schools Coordinator in the School, were well deservedly very proud of her.
Following a tremendous turn out, where over 50% of the 106 boys and girls at Sooey NS cycled to school, with lots of parents too, Imelda congratulated everyone involved and thanked the local gardaí who had helped out on the morning, and then she was off on her travels to Marist Girls NS in Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim.
Caroline Healy, the principal at the School, and the Green-Schools Committee had invited Imelda to raise their Green Flag for Sustainable Travel. Imelda was honoured to do so and made a speech on behalf of An Taisce and Leitrim Co Council congratulating the whole school community on their great work on the Green-Schools Travel theme. Carrick on Shannon residents were treated to weekly sightings of large groups of families, coming from all directions in the Town, walking to school together and all wearing their bright Smarter Travel Green-School jackets to highlight their presence to motorists. Imelda took the opportunity to demonstrate to all the children present, the correct way to wear their bicycle helmet and reminded parents of all the benefits of getting out walking and cycling more often with their children.
Following this Imelda travelled back to her home village of Riverstown Co Sligo, to watch and support her local National School, Ardkeeran, raise their Green Flag for Water Conservation. Her colleague Lisa McDaniel had worked closely with this School and was there to congratulate all the pupils and staff on the day, with a speech that helped raise awareness of the very positive impact the School has played in its Green-Schools work to date.
Lisa then went on to join Kilross NS in their celebrations of raising their Green Flag for Water Conservation. Lisa worked with both schools over their time on the Water theme.
“Both schools were an absolute pleasure to work with” said Lisa McDaniel. “They integrated the water theme thoroughly throughout the curriculum and produced excellent renewal applications. By reading the water meters and making small changes to their toilets and taps both schools were rewarded with significant reductions in water consumption – Well done to everyone!!”.
Both Ardkeeran and Kilross NS’s are now moving on to the Green-Schools Travel theme and will be working with Imelda from September, 2012. “I am very much looking forward to working with these schools” said Imelda, “Ardkeeran in particular, as it is in a village setting, has great scope for encouraging more families to walk and cycle to school”.
Imelda joined Coolbock NS on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th when they raised their Green Flag for Energy Conservation. The School have been involved in a number of walk to school events, as well as Cycle Training held during Bike Week 2011 & Bike Week 2010, in anticipation of the Green-Schools Travel theme.
Last, but certainly not least, later that day Imelda received a lovely email with the following photo from Scoil Realt na Mara in Rosses Point Co Sligo, who were awarded their Green Flag for Sustainable Travel in 2010. They had 30 boys and girls cycling to school on National COW day. Well done to Scoil Realt na Mara for keeping up the great work. They were one of the schools involved in the National Roll Out of the Travel theme and are certainly a great credit to the Green-Schools programme.