Hordes of parallel lines of bicycles moving forward with uniformed school kids on their seats. This is a daily sight around 9 am, over years, on the roads to Udinoor Higher Secondary School in Thrikkarippur. Udinoor is a coastal village in Kasargod district, and borders Kannur district. These kids turn a model for others inside and outside Kerala through proclaiming the greatness of cycle ride.
The school started in 1981. Now, there are 1300 students studying there. Out of them, 1100 reach school on cycles. Bus facility to the school from places like Cheruvathoor, Padanna, Thrikkarippur and Idayilakkad is inadequate. Though the lack of public transport was the first provocation for the students to opt for cycles to come to school, now they have more reasons not to leave this mode of transport —cycle is pollution-free; it saves energy; it’s eco-friendly; it’ll boost physical and mental health.
Globally, fossil fuels are getting depleted day by day. So with a view to conscientising motorists on the need to reduce the use of conventional fuels, Car-Free Day is observed all over the world. In India, this day is observed as Cycle Day. The cycle journey held in the state under the auspices of State Energy Conservation Society in connection with International Car-Free Day was flagged off from Udinoor school.
ECS is an organization formed with the aim to find a solution to the increasing fuel shortage, boost physical fitness through exercise and resolve eco issues. The use of cycles by the kids of this school also underlines the emphasis the parents here lay on physical and mental growth parallely with intellectual growth through studies.
Additionally, it broadcasts the message for fuel conservation and Nature protection. Being a coastal region, Udinoor is ideal for cycle ride. No ups and downs; plain road. The kids who are determined to go the extra mile, take extra care while crossing the railway gate. Students’ police cadets control traffic. This is also the first school where so many students come to study, riding bicycles.
Ravindran Mash, the principal of the school, is all praise for the parents and students for launching this admirable initiative.
“In an age where parents think twice before sending their kids outside, the courage displayed by the parents here is praiseworthy. This freedom being given to the children also paves the way for their self-reliance. The school hasn’t got parking space for this many bicycles. A roofed auditorium on the school grounds, which is in the offing, will fulfill this need as well as provide space for assembly,” he says.
“The Parent Teachers Association has plans to spend Rs.2 lakh from the PTA fund for this auditorium and buy cycles for those who lack them in standards 10 to 12’’, Mr Karunakaran, who has been the PTA president for the past four years, says.
According to Archana S Kumar, a student, it is a real pleasure to ride cycle early in the morning from home to the tuition centre and from there to the school, in the company of other cyclist friends.
Bicycle helps save a lot of time and this helps us keep time at tuition centres and at school. Cycle ride also signals the need for fuel conservation and environment protection. And we enjoy the whole- hearted backing of teachers and parents.
Says ECS general secretary Soman who flagged off the cycle rally from the school on International Car-Free Day: “This is the only school where more than 1000 students come by cycle. The importance the kids of this school attach to environment protection and energy conservation had already come to my notice. I’m proud at being able to launch this cycle rally from this school (Udinoor school) itself which has grabbed national attention.’’
Cycle Day is observed on International Car-Free Day with a view to broadcasting to the whole world the message that we should surmount the fuel crisis and environmental problems through resorting to avoiding motor vehicles, doing walking and riding bicycles or using public transport system like bus or train. Soman who had retired as the principal of Government ITI, Chalakkudy, has been using only bicycle for the past 32 years and skipping hikes in the prices of petrol and diesel.
The unparalleled backing the parents and teachers give to their kids who excel in curricular as well as extracurricular activities is worthy of emulation. The study and research the students had done into the link between cycle riding and physical fitness also got due recognition.
The students also take the initiative to launch and spread eco-friendly activities. They have also bagged prize in `Palathulli Peruvellam’’, organized by Malayala Manorama.
The school owns a medicinal plants herbarium in around 8 cents, a biogas plant and some of 25 varieties of `nattu mavu’ which face extinction, and gooseberry plants which will bear fruit soon. These are some of the fruits the students’ eco-friendly activities here have borne.
In an age where we find everybody rushing after modern comforts and luxury, here, in a remote village of Kerala, we see some determined kids avidly teaching the whole world how to return to our roots to preserve our Mother Earth, The question is: Are we prepared to learn lessons?
Thanks Kris Sreekandath, for the video
(With inputs from Mini Vasudev and Aditya Divakaran)
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