Kindergarteners at Chiloquin Elementary straddled their new striders and pushed off, lifting their feet from the ground as the bikes shot forward.
The students last week began learning to ride thanks to $5,000 in donations from Chiloquin Community Builders and Ninja Mountain Bike Performance, which were used to purchase a fleet of 30 strider bikes through the All Kids Bike program. The striders were assembled by volunteer instructors with Ninja Mountain Bike Performance, the largest mountain bike skills instruction company in the U.S. The company relocated its headquarters to the Chiloquin area three years ago.
Chiloquin P.E. teacher Barb Whalen and volunteer Hannah Levine are teaching the lessons to kindergarteners and first-graders, helping students don their helmets and providing encouragement and advice. Levine is captain of global development for Ninja Mountain Bike Performance and bike team lead with Chiloquin Community Builders.
“We want every kid to get a chance to learn how to ride regardless of circumstances,” Levine said.
Chiloquin is the fourth school in the Klamath County School District to kick off the All Kids Bike learn-to-ride program. Shasta, Henley, and Bonanza elementary schools received their striders last spring.
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 fleets come with complete curriculum for teaching kindergarteners and first-graders how to ride.
The hope is the strider bike learn-to-ride program will prepare students for more advanced skills as they enter the upper elementary grades.
In Chiloquin, Ninja Mountain Bike Performance and Chiloquin Community Builders are partnering to increase bicycling in the area. Goals include eliminating financial barriers to owning a bicycle, improving access to riding opportunities in the Chiloquin area, and developing a bicycle program for youth that includes bike skills, safety, trail stewardship, bike repair, and maintenance.