Support pedal-powered program

Human Powered Vehicle Program (HPV) participating students (L-R) Swayzee, Alysha, Fouina, Lucy, with coach and coordinator Christopher McGowan (right two). Picture: Violet Li

By Violet Li

Cranbourne West Primary School is calling for the community to support one of its programs that teaches students sustainability, health and mechanical knowledge, leadership, and teamwork in a vehicle-racing environment.

In the Human Powered Vehicle Program (HPV), a long-living initiative in the school’s history, students in a team take turns lying down in a trike with fairing, pedalling the vehicle with their body strength, and racing against teams from other schools.

The program aims to promote knowledge about the cardiovascular system and inspire students on why they need to eat and drink well. Leadership, communication, and teamwork are the accompanying soft skills students get to command along the way.

“It’s been a really positive program at our school, and it’s been one that we’ve had a lot of success with over the last 10 years, and we’ve come a long way,” coach and program coordinator Christopher McGowan said.

“It is just another opportunity to give the kids another experience in something that will help benefit them in some way.”

Participating student Alysha found the program helpful and educational.

“We learn about sustainability. We learn about nutrition, like how we’re eating healthy to boost our fitness,” she said.

“I think lots of people have gotten better with their fitness. Some people don’t know how to ride a bike, and then they have learned from this program.”

The race spirits extend beyond the campus. Participating students compete in a major once-a-year event called Energy Breakthrough in Maryborough, Victoria. The five-day contest provides opportunities for students, teachers, parents, and the local industry to design, construct, and test an innovative and environmentally friendly vehicle. Students race for about 14 hours across the days.

To get ready for the grand-scale battle, students also sign up for the Victorian HPV Grand Prix Series which holds four races a year by the Casey Cardinia HPV & Cycling Club.

Christoper has worked so hard to build the program over the years that it sometimes makes the school forget he also teaches.

“I teach first, and this is a secondary thing I do for the kids,” he said.

“My favourite part of my job is the part I am not paid to do but rather volunteer my time, passion, and enthusiasm toward to better the future generations of young people.”

Though passion fuels the best part, Christoper admitted obtaining enough sponsorship for each year was hard, especially when the program had been growing this year with an extra team formed. Now the school has three teams for the big show in Maryborough.

“The school doesn’t pay for this program. We spend a lot of time fundraising here at school so the program can survive,” he said.

“I guess it’s a positive part of the program because it teaches the kids about working hard for something that’s bigger than you and helps generations after them.

“But it also becomes tricky because we still need the funds to give the kids the experience.

“We’re just seeking sponsorship from the local community. We’d really appreciate anyone willing to sponsor a program that’s having a huge impact on the lives of future generations of kids.”

Christoper estimated that a total of $35,000 would be needed to run this year’s program, including fees for competition registrations, uniforms, equipment, repairs, and accommodation and transport fees for the Maryborough trip.

“We don’t charge families money. That’s part of the program. Our principal Andrew [Bergmeier] is very passionate about this being cost-free to families, so we try and keep it that way,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth every bit because we see what the kids get out of it.

“And you also have your special t-shirts.”

Cranbourne West Primary School will participate in Round 3 of the Victorian HPV Grand Prix Series on 27 July at Sandown International Raceway.

To support the program, you can call Christoper on 5996 2878, or email the school at: