Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh is a mixed National School with 120 pupils and 7 Teachers, situated along the busy Rahoon Road near Barna, Co. Galway. Rahoon Road has been described as a ‘rat run’ for commuters to Galway City with heavy traffic volumes on a narrow country road, and is without footpaths or cycle lanes. Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh embraced the new travel theme from the start in September 2008 and have since radically altered the modal choice of school travel away from the private car to walking and cycling.
Parents were informed of the new travel theme via the School Newsletter and their first Walk on Wednesday (WOW) was held on the 24th September 2008, with follow on fun curriculum work in each classroom. A parent very generously donated money for high visibility vests with the School funding the rest, and all children and 15 parents received one.
They also had a sponsored Halloween fancy dress walk along the Promenade in Salthill. Their first Walking Bus departed in October and due to the huge participation another two Walking Bus routes were introduced within the month. There are now three walking buses coming to the school each Wednesday and they have also set up a new initiative- WOOF (Walk Out On Friday).
In February, a new cycle shed was installed by An Taisce, which has been a great incentive for the children to cycle and know that their bikes are kept dry. They also have had cycle training in March which educated the children on bike maintenance and safer cycling techniques, as well as a road safety talk by a Cycle Garda. In March they launched their first
Cycle on Wednesday (COW) which has proven to be tremendous success, for both boys and girls. In April, Naomh Sheosaimh also took part in the Green Schools Travel: “Spring into Action”, Art Exhibition at Galway City Library. They exhibited some great clay craft pieces and posters based on sustainable school travel, which were open to the Public to marvel at for a fortnight.
They also took part in National Cycle Week in June with a programme of events. There was a talk from a Cycle Garda on the Tuesday, a Bling ‘ur’ Bike, a COW, a Fun Cycle Train and picnic on the Thursday with 58 children and 10 parents cycling to Cappagh Park. The week culminated in a bike maintenance session, prize giving ceremony and official launch of their cycle parking on the Friday! September of 2009 saw the re-launch of the WOW, COW and WOOF initiatives at the School. 6THClass pupils restarted their weekly monitoring of progress as they had been doing throughout the year and there has been continued linkage with the curriculum in all classes.
The Cycle Parking is now full each day with up to 30 children cycling, an increase from 5.5% before the new travel theme to 25%. The Principle, Damian O’Keefe has been very happy with the progress made citing nearly full participation in the combination of walking and cycling initiatives and the Children loving the new theme. Congestion outside the school has also been dramatically reduced.
The year has seen the School achieve some local and National PR as well. They have been in the Connaught Tribune, the bike week supplement in the Independent and the bike week website. They also got numerous ‘shout outs’ on Galway Bay FM about their various COW and WOW days.
Commenting on their progress, Tiarnan McCusker, Travel Education Officer, An Taisce who has been working with the school throughout the year believes: “I am over the moon at the changes that have been taking place at Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh. Originally the new Travel Theme was deemed rather daunting, with the lack of infrastructure and safety concerns of the Rahoon Road. One year on and the there has been a revolution in School Travel, with children and parents walking, cycling and car pooling. The Green Travel ethos has been set into the very foundations of the school and the environmental and health benefits will be felt in the generations to come. Well done to the Staff, Parents and the Pupils for all your hard work, it has truly been a team effort!”