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Fun Run replaces Cross Country at Lake Rerewhakaaitu

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Earlier this year Lake Rerewhakaaitu School held their first Fun Run event, replacing their traditional cross country. The school was motivated to make the change after reading the P.E New Zealand position paper on Primary School Cross Country events.

Lake Rerewhakaaitu School is part of the Healthy Active Learning initiative in Central Bay of Plenty. We recently caught with teachers and students from Lake Rerewhakaaitu to find out more about about their journey from cross country to fun run and what it meant for student participation and enjoyment.

After reading P.E. New Zealand's position paper, staff discussed the purpose of their cross country and questioned their motivations for continuing to run the event. Realising that not every child enjoyed running, they wanted to create an event that would get students excited. A fun run was born.

Fun Run 01

A course on the school grounds was designed and shown to the students. The buzz began. Staff used their physical education time to develop the students' endurance through different types of running activities, as opposed to just running laps of the field, and exposed the students to the different obstacles. Teacher Deb Mitchell was looking forward to the changes and said her class had been excited the whole week leading up to the event.

On the day a variety of obstacles were built into the fun run: the course weaved through the school playground, up and through a tunnel and down a slide, a spiral maze, under a cargo net, over hay bales, through tyres and into the colour paint powder. The challenge was to run as many laps as possible within a given time frame set for each year level. It’s fair to say the children had a lot of fun and did not want to stop!

“It was evident that many students who would normally walk the cross country, ran as much as they could in the fun run.”

Lauren Harris, teacher

Parents and caregivers were then invited to join the children for another lap, and many of the students ran again.

Deputy Principal Vanessa Koroa said, “There was much anticipation from the teachers and students and the day went well with nearly 100 per cent participation.

This was a new way for us to encourage all children to participate and have a go. Students still covered the traditionally required distances but in a way that encouraged them to have fun at the same time. They were still able to build up their running skills, resilience and perseverance in the lead up to the event and the end results gave us an indication of which children would progress through to our annual Cluster Cross Country event.

Vanessa said the proposed change was met with mixed reactions at first, particularly from the parent community, but the school embraced the opportunity to discuss why they were making the switch.

"After discussions with teachers and students, parents felt more confident that even though this was a new way to run our annual cross country event their children were still completing the required distances, and the competitiveness of the event was still there. Another bonus of this being a whole school event was that we were able to use this experience as the topic for our e-asTTle Writing recount sample. We definitely have room for improvement and we're getting a lot more input from the students as we reflect and look ahead to planning an even better event next year”.

Student Te Heimata Koroa (Year 8) said the fun run lived up to its name: “It was lots of fun. I don’t like running and didn’t want to do cross country but when the teachers told us we were going to do it differently then I thought I’d give it a go.”

Healthy Active Learning

Healthy Active Learning is a joint initiative from Sport New Zealand, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. On the ground Sport Bay of Plenty is working alongside Toi Te Ora Public Health and education providers to improve the wellbeing of children and young people through healthy eating and drinking and quality physical activity.

The initiative is based on evidence showing children's nutrition and physical activity are linked to both academic achievement and improved physical and mental health.


Read more

Find out more about Healthy Active Learning

Read the P.E. New Zealand position paper on cross country events


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