State Matters with Steve Cansdell

Office contactsPhone: 6643 1244Fax: 6642 7574Address: 11 Prince Street, Grafton, 2460Email: www.cansdell.comPedal for Preschools embraced

I have just completed my third annual Pedal for Preschools fundraising bike ride and I am overwhelmed by the support the initiative received in the Richmond Valley. It was the first time I had taken Pedal for Preschools to Casino and I couldnt believe the size of the crowd that showed up to back our local community-based preschools.

The generosity of Richmond Valley residents, businesses and community organisations, especially the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, the Casino RSM and the Woodburn/Evans Head RSL, has allowed us to create a new fundraising record. We collected more than $10,500 which will be divided evenly among the preschools I cycled to in the Richmond and Clarence valleys over the past fortnight.

Bike helmet saved my skull

There was only one major mishap on the trip when I was knocked out cold after falling off my bike on the Pacific Highway at the end of the first week.

I am an experienced rider but I made a small mistake and landed head first on the hard road surface. If I can draw any positives out of the experience, it is that my bike helmet saved my skull and maybe my life. Some people complain about the helmet laws for cyclists, saying they should only be compulsory for kids. My experience proves they do work and they are necessary.

The headaches soon faded and I was back on my bike a couple of days later to finish the ride.

Funding shortfall

While the two-week ride was a lot of fun for me, the children and the parents, there is a very serious side to the event.

Community-based preschools are severely underfunded by the NSW Government. As a result our preschools have the highest fees, longest waiting lists and lowest participation rates. In other states, almost all kids start at preschools, but in NSW more than a third of children never get enrolled.

The problem is so severe that the NSW Nationals will commit an extra $360 million to the sector over four years if we win government next March.

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