Kindergarteners and first-graders at Shasta Elementary School cheered and clapped when P.E. teacher Theresa Ross wheeled the school’s new strider bikes into view.
“Are you ready to ride?” she asked.
The response was immediate – and resounding: “Yes!!”
A few days later, Henley kindergarteners also had a chance to try out their school’s new striders – eagerly donning helmets and using their feet to cruise around a paved loop.
The two schools raised funds this year through All Kids Bike, which provides the striders, helmets, pedal conversion kits, and curriculum. Each school raised more than $5,000 with the help of community members and organizations.
Donors were invited to the schools’ reveal assemblies last week so they could watch the students ride for the first time.
One of those donors was Donna Wetter, who donated to Henley’s program. Wetter doesn’t have children but said she and her husband enjoy supporting youth programs.
“As a child, riding a bike is one of the first memorable accomplishments next to tying your shoes,” she said. “It’s a stigma if you don’t know how to ride a bike.”
Ross and Henley P.E. teachers Tiffany Poe and Meghan Stock thanked the community members and organizations that stepped up to the make the program a reality for this year’s young students as well as generations to come.
“I just want to say thank you to the people who helped because without them some of these children may never learn how to ride a bike,” Poe said.
At both Henley and Shasta, before climbing on the strider bikes, students watched demonstrations highlighting why wearing bicycle helmets is a must. P.E. teachers put watermelons in the helmets, and dropped them from the top of a ladder. The watermelons remained intact. Next, they dropped watermelons without helmets from the same height. As expected, the melons cracked and broke into pieces.
All Kids Bike is a national movement to set up kindergarten P.E. learn-to-ride programs in public schools using donations from businesses, community members, and organizations. Strider bikes are bikes without pedals, and riders start by sitting on the bike and using their feet to move it forward. Once a child can run along, balance, and steer the bike, pedals are added.
The hope is the strider bike learn-to-ride program for kindergarteners will prepare students for more advanced skills as they enter the upper elementary grades. Henley and Shasta are among several KCSD elementary schools with a fleet of mountain bikes for fourth, fifth- and sixth-graders. The older students learn bike safety and more advanced biking skills. Field trips expose students to area trails. Schools also offer after-school mountain biking and triathlon clubs. and transition onto the mountain bikes.
The next step for Shasta Elementary is to build a bike skills park on its campus. The school’s booster club currently is fund-raising for ramps, bridges, and other equipment.
Last week, Wetter and other donors stood in the sunshine, smiling and taking phone photos and video as kindergarteners donned helmets and took turns riding the new striders.
Wetter summed it up nicely: “Isn’t this just wonderful.”
Shasta and Henley schools want to thank all their donors – Thomas Hoffar, Lisa and Paul Gearhard, Karly Glogowski, Jerry Ross, Holly Echeverria, Karen Poole, Country Financial, Sharon Maupin, Alison Andrews of Eco Solar, Inc., Amy Hathaway, Anna Butler, Tamara Walker, the Norton family, David Scott/Rodeos Pizza & Saladeria, Leslie Ager, Rene Rank, Trisia Brunson, Donna Wetter, Kristin M. Dodson, Rose Cleverly, Michael Bandfield, Fabian Baker, Theresa Ross, Sheryl Beverly, Ashton Greer, Deanna Hahn, Barbara and Jeff Chapman, Marianne K Yost, Beverly Leigh, Alyse Shetler, Kayla Wessel, Sherry Hutchinson, Tiffany Poe, Jessica Paddock, and Christie Sonneman.
Bonanza’s P.E. program is currently raising money to buy a fleet of strider bicycles. So far, the All Kids Bike fund-raising campaign has raised about $2,400 of the needed $6,050 to purchase 30 striders, helmets, pedal conversion kits, and curriculum. To donate to Bonanza’s All Kids Bike program: https://support.allkidsbike.org/bonanza-elementary-school.