Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Education Minister John O’Dowd are urging schoolchildren to take part in two competitions linked to the Giro d’Italia – the world’s second largest bike race taking place in Northern Ireland this year.
To maximise the local impact of the event taking place in May, the Department for Regional Development (DRD) and the Department of Education (DE) have joined forces with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), Sustrans and the Public Health Agency (PHA) to create a supporting programme of events and activities to inspire schools to ‘Think Pink’ and spread Giro fever across Northern Ireland.
School children of all ages are being asked to design a banner to use along the route of the Giro d’Italia and to make active journeys to school.
Minister Danny Kennedy said: “This is an exciting time for Northern Ireland as 200 top professional cyclists from across the globe will arrive here for one of the greatest sporting spectacles on our shores during the weekend of 9-11 May. My Department, along with the Department of Education and all our supporting partners would like to encourage school children to get involved in the excitement. The Giro provides an invaluable opportunity to educate everyone about cycling, not just as a means of transport but also as a leisure activity and as a sporting opportunity.
“As a legacy of the Giro d’Italia, I want cycling to be carried forward in a meaningful way that will make it not only a landmark event but a means of encouraging and promoting cycling as we go forward.”
Minister for Education, John O’Dowd added: “Being active is a vital part of any child’s development and hosting the Giro d’Italia provides us with the opportunity to highlight the importance of physical activity to our young people. Along with the many health benefits, taking part in enjoyable sports activities such as cycling can boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem, in turn stimulating their motivation to learn.
“The Giro is also an amazing spectacle. My message to teachers is: think about how you can use the Giro to get children and young people excited about not only cycling, but exercise and healthy living in general.
“These fun and engaging competitions from Travelwise NI and Sustrans offer excellent opportunities to learn more about this prestigious cycle race, one of cycling’s three ‘grand tours’. And I would encourage parents and families to consider bringing their children out to see the race in action while it is here.
“The prospect of world class professional sport on our doorstep can only serve to inspire our young people to get more active.”
The DRD Travelwise competition is tasking all schools in Northern Ireland to create a banner for use along the route of the Giro d’Italia. The school with the winning design, will have their banner printed, with the winning class (30 pupils and 10 adults) winning a trip to watch the race and display their banner to the watching world.” The closing date is the 14 March 2014. Visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/giro-banner for more information.
And, to encourage schools to get active this spring, Sustrans’ innovative 10-day ‘Giro Schools Challenge’ is an inter-school competition that will encourage pupils to cycle, scoot and walk to school each day from 31 March – 11 April. The more active journeys they make, the more points the schools will earn, helping them to compete for a range of prizes including a BMX display session from T13, cycle and scooter parking pods, and Dr Bike sessions.
The Giro Schools Challenge is funded jointly by the PHA and DE. PHA Chief Executive Dr Eddie Rooney said: “PHA is delighted to support this challenge which will help more children to take part in physical exercise, which is so important for their growth and development, not to mention the fact that it is good fun. Too many of our children do not get enough exercise and this poses real, long-term risks to their health and wellbeing.”
To register for the challenge or for more information visit http://www.girochallenge.sustrans.org.uk