16 August 2018

We are delighted that we've been able to buy a fleet of high quality mountain bikes and a cycle store - as well as offer an after-school cycling club - thanks to £10,000 from the Taryn Electra Foundation in the USA.  
Our aim is to get every pupil, especially those in year 7, to cycle regularly to and from school, as a way of improving their physical and mental health, as well as reducing local congestion.
The donation from the Taryn Electra Foundation means the school will now be able to take its work to develop a cycling culture amongst pupils and parents, to the next level.
Through an ongoing project called ‘Geared Up’, the school is on a mission to help its pupils become safe, competent, responsible and enthusiastic cyclists. The scheme is already having a big impact on pupils, with 83 percent reporting that they feel more positive about school as a result of Geared Up.
Over the last year, more than 70 pupils have achieved various levels of cycling ability training, including pupils who’d never been on a bike before.
Cycling schemes have included encouraging more girls to cycle, as well as touring some of the borough’s workplaces, by bike.
Other feats have included an epic ‘Ride to Rome’; where pupils got on their bikes and collectively covered the distance from North Shields to the Italian capital, to try and raise funds to support more cycling in school.
Pupils have also become cycling ambassadors, encouraging others to take part and working to raise sponsorship from local businesses.
The pupils’ enthusiasm and commitment inspired the generous donation from the Taryn Electra Foundation, who heard about the scheme through our Head of School, Lucy Roderick.
Lucy explained: “We’ve already achieved so much with this project in just a year, and we wanted to take it even further; to create a cycling culture with pupils and parents, and make cycling an everyday event for many pupils.
“In order to do this we needed to purchase our own fleet of bikes, so more pupils could be active, and provide a secure area for pupils with bikes to store their own during the school day. Thanks to the donation from the Taryn Electra Foundation we’re now going to be able to bring the next stage of the project, to life.
“We have been humbled by the generosity of the foundation, and the donation means that even more pupils will now be able to build their cycling skills and confidence, as well as improve their fitness.”
The funding will also allow the school to launch a Norham bike club; where up to 12 pupils per session will attend an after-school group to develop their skills.
Staff are also in the process of fitting out a room in school so that bikes can be stored safely and securely at all times.
Simon Walker and his wife Taryn manage the Taryn Electra Foundation.
Simon said: “‘We helped because we see how important it is for children to have access to cycling as a way to exercise but also to get to school and to see the local area.
“Taryn and I had bikes as we grew up and we couldn’t really imagine not being able to ride to school on a bike. Schools today do seem very under-resourced especially when it comes to health and leisure type activities and so cannot afford to support great projects like this.
“Our Foundation chooses to invest in projects that can change lives in small ways but make a big difference, e.g. a bicycle. We are already really impressed with the impact our investment has had – to see such return in such a short period of time is fabulous.
“It’s tremendous to see everyone so happy on their bikes it was a real pleasure to be able to help out. “
Lucy Roderick added: “Thanks must also go to Mr Harris, Mr Forster and Mr Chart  from Norham High School for their passion about the impact cycling can have on young people and the hard work they continue to put in to ensure young people have these opportunities.”
The school continues to work to raise money for its Geared Up work, hoping to secure funding for a cycle ride and an overnight stay at Gibside, a cycling trip abroad to Holland and a ‘Pump Track’ bespoke cycling facility within our school grounds.
The school would love to hear from local businesses or individuals who think they’d like to support the scheme. Mrs Roderick can be contacted on (0191) 200 5062.