Let’s Go Whanganui – get active and healthy

Whanganui’s ‘Let’s Go’ project is getting under way with a new website, mascot design competition and the involvement of a range of organisations and agencies.

Let’s Go Whanganui aims to help make it easy to leave your car at home by providing better ways to cycle, walk, scooter, skate and use other active transport options to get around. It’s part of the Urban Cycleways Programme for which the Whanganui District Council has received funding from New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Let’s Go will involve infrastructure development like the shared pathways (City Bridge to North Mole and Te Tuaiwi which runs from the bottom of St John’s Hill, along St Hill Street to the Whanganui River), as well as educational and behaviour change programmes such as cyclist skills training, travel planning with schools and workplaces, events and competitions.

Recently Whanganui Deputy Mayor Hamish McDouall chaired a hui which involved a wide range of organisations and agencies interested in promoting health and transport options.

“We had a great response to our invitation to be part of this initial overview of our Let’s Go project,” Mr McDouall said.

“We were fortunate to have New Plymouth District Council staff who are involved in a similar Let’s Go project in their city, as well as experts from NZTA, Bike On Trust which runs the Bikes in Schools programme and Cycling Action Network, who were willing to share their experiences with our Whanganui community.

“The value of the Let’s Go project is demonstrated by the fact that our hui included people who travelled from Wellington, New Plymouth, Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and Palmerston North because they are passionate about health and making it easy and fun for individuals, whanau, schools, workplaces and communities to get active.”

Also present at the hui were representatives from Whanganui Police, Horizons Regional Council, Whanganui Bike Users Group, YMCA, Whanganui District Health Board, Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority, Sport Whanganui and Whanganui District Council.

The next step is to form a working group of interested parties that want to be part of the ongoing project and assist in delivering aspects of the programme.

The Let’s Go Whanganui website, designed by local company Two Monkeys, is now live and provides more information about the Let’s Go project, travel planning for schools and workplaces and details of events. People can also register their events on the site and log their active transport travel. The website address is www.letsgowhanganui.org.nz.

A substantial part of Let’s Go will involve working with young people and a competition is currently under way to find an appropriate mascot for the programme which children and adults can identify with.

Year 7-9 students are invited to create and name a mascot. Once the children have come up with a design and concept, their work will be exhibited in a shop front in Victoria Avenue. Collective Whanganui and Property Brokers have assisted in identifying a suitable location which is being provided free of charge by Wallace Development Company Ltd which owns the building.

The winning design will be used as the Let’s Go mascot and will appear on the Let’s Go Whanganui website, logos, stickers, maps and as a mascot costume.

The concept designs will be judged by a small panel made up of teachers, artists and council staff. The school which creates the winning design will receive a Warehouse Stationery voucher worth $300. Warehouse Stationery has also donated two Huawei media-pads as prizes.

Warehouse Stationery Wanganui store manager Russell Burney says:

“Warehouse Stationery was approached recently by Norman Gruebsch, Active Transport Facilitator of the Whanganui District Council, to build a relationship that would inspire our Wanganui youth to create a Let’s Go mascot and embrace fitness and fun. Warehouse Stationery (WS) came to the party with two incredible new prizes of Huawei 8” Media-pads. The alignment of cultures between WS and the Council was spot on, with both recognising the need to build closer relationships with Wanganui youth. WS already supports local schools with Support Your School rebates, has a Duffy school partnership here in the city, has an active Art & Craft Club, and has everything you need to Work, Study, Create & Connect every day. Providing awesome prizes should create a great wave of interest at school level.”

A number of schools have been invited to participate in the mascot design competition. Entries are also invited from other students in the Year 7-9 age group. Details of the competition are available on the Let’s Go website www.letsgowhanganui.org.nz.