Record breaking summer holiday challenges

Lindi Harding
St Augustine's School

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out. Buckle up this is a long ride...

Late last year I had to take a few weeks off work due to a bike riding accident (I know, I am supposed to be the school champion for bike safety!) I was able to remind the teachers, the other parents and the students who found this ironic that even if you wear all of the correct safety gear you are still not invincible.

While I was sitting at home, wishing I could get back on my bike, I started to brainstorm some ways to keep up the St Augustine's active travel momentum into 2022. I conjured up an idea of setting up an active travel neighbourhood treasure hunt and with a side serve of 'find your way to school' and a sprinkling of active travel activity pages. I discussed my idea with other parents to get their input and adjusted my plans according to their advice. The general idea was to actively travel to a location provided, find the treasure (activity sheet), complete it, and then actively travel to the school letterbox to post the sheet for a chance to win vouchers purchased from the your move store. I decided to name it "Car Free Fortune Finders".

I thought that the opportunity to practice getting to school by foot or pedal during the holidays might take some of the fear out of the process for first time active travellers without the stress of arriving on time or trying to do something new during an already hectic morning routine.

I spent time scrolling through the resources pages on the your move website and used google to look for examples of active travel related activity pages that I could use. I was able to create 7 different activity sheets (the instructions sheet is attached as a pdf below):

  • Colouring In
  • Crossword
  • Dot to Dot
  • Draw a Bike
  • Maze
  • Bike Sudoku
  • Word Sleuth

I thought the best place to locate the active travel treasure hunt during the school holidays would be to ask local businesses if they would assist by holding copies of the activity sheets for families to request. I got out on my crutches and ‘walked’ the streets asking local shop owners if they would assist. There were many local businesses delighted to welcome our students, they loved the idea of getting kids moving around the neighbourhood. These are the wonderful businesses:

  • Humblebee Cafe
  • Terry White Chemist
  • Wirrpanda Foundation
  • City View Cafe
  • Blasta Cafe and Brewery
  • Belmont Library

In consultation with the school admin, we decided to send the first activity sheet and instructions/information home with students on the last day of school as well as posting a copy on the Parent Communication App (SAPS). I asked Crawford from the City of Belmont if we could have some of the Map Your Move Belmont maps to also go home, Crawford was super helpful as always and delivered a whopping box full of maps the very same day. I also promoted the Car Free Fortune Finders on the Parents and Friends Facebook page. I decided only to advertise the 3 locations closest to the school at this time, and planned to 'reveal' the remaining locations as the holidays and interest progressed. I hoped to have a snowball effect of families joining in the treasure hunt by awarding extra entries for families posting a picture of the adventure on Facebook. There was concern from the admin team that the letterbox might overflow with all of the entries, we were assured that the school gardener would attend to the letterbox and store the entries if required.

The school holidays started out HOT. December had Perth’s longest ever December heatwave with 4 consecutive days over 40 degrees. I didn't expect much interest in the Car Free Fortune Finders in the lead up to Christmas as many families have a hectic schedule of social engagements during that time, but I hadn't seen any pictures coming through of families claiming bonus entries. After things had settled down and we were well and truly into the holiday schedule, I wanted to take my own children to do some of the activities, but I was finding it difficult to find an opportunity safely leave the house and travel actively during the day due to the extreme heat. I wondered if other families were having similar issues. When I saw a forecast of cooler weather in mid Jan I decided to take the opportunity to place a reminder post on the Parents and Friends Facebook Page.

The window of cool weather was short and sweet, but other priorities meant that our family didn't get to do any activities before the next heatwave hit. It was another record breaker - this time 6 consecutive days above 40 degrees! This latest heatwave made a total of 11 days above 40C this summer. Perth’s previous record for total summer days over 40C was seven days in 2015-16! Again I wondered how many families had braved the elements.

When Week 1 arrived I started making arrangements for the prize vouchers to be delivered from the rewards shop in time to be presented at the first assembly. Unfortunately the vouchers I had promised were no longer available, so I decided I would provide local bike shop vouchers instead. I held off purchasing these from the store as I would let the winners decide on which local bike shop they preferred. It was just as well I hadn’t finalised the purchase, as when I went to the admin team to collect the entries I was advised that there had been NONE. I couldn't quite believe it.

I checked with some of our most active travelling families and the families that had helped me with the original idea, and they all had the same response "we wanted to do the activities, but each day found ourselves hunkered down avoiding the heat" much the same as my own family.

Although the activity itself was not a success in terms of encouraging active travel in our school community, there were plenty of positives along the way.

  • I have 7 active travel activity sheets ready to go for another time
  • The admin, gardening and your move team worked well to create solutions
  • Each student was provided a Map Your Move Belmont map
  • Promoted St Augustine's Your Move profile in our local businesses
  • I learned a lesson about over-enthusiasm, and possibly overcomplicated the activity

Even though Car Free Fortune Finders did not work out as planned, I would like to try a more simple version of this activity again in a fairer weather (Autumn/Spring) school holidays and see if the interest is greater. Maybe a Bike Month activity for October? The recent International Women's Day WestCycle treasure hunt using QR codes is a good example of a simple and effective activity to encourage active travel.

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James (Your Move)

I really like the way you think Lindi - firstly conjuring up this amazing activity and then reflecting postitively on why it didn't quite work out. I'd be interested to hear why you think it was overly complicated - it doesn't come across so. Regarding QR codes - Leah from Murdoch Uni has just posted a story in which she reflects that having useds QRs might have limited the uptake of her event, so that is something to consider.

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James (Your Move)

I suspect that if you ran this over a month of mild weather during school term (allowing regular promotion) that you would get quite a different result. You have earned 25 points for this "Super Scavenger Hunt" activity, 10 points for using social media and 30 bonus points for its innovative nature. You also earned another 30 points for the incredible detail of your plans and 10 points for your deep reflection. So that is 124 points of silver lining to your Car Free Fortune Finders challenge 🤩!

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James (Your Move)

Oh, I have just added another 10 point for including all those resources!

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Thanks James, the generous silver lining really helps to keep me inspired - I'll have a good think about how to run this again in a more successful way. Thanks for the info regarding Murdoch and the QR codes. I will have a read of Leah's story.

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James (Your Move)

It looks like St Patrick are trying something similar in the Easter holidays...

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