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January 29, 2016

"CYCLE Kids" Unleashed

Last spring, CYCLE Kids opened one of its first California based programs at the Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara, California. In a school that was already working to promote healthy, active lifestyles through cycling, the CYCLE Kids curriculum was the missing component for their 5th grade students.

Julie Churchman, a triathlete and the school's physical education teacher, believes in the CYCLE Kids mission of strengthening the emotional and physical health of children through teaching them how to ride a bike and make healthy choices. "The students love that there is bike education at their school. Many of them do not own bikes because they can't store them where they live. For many of them, biking at school is their only chance to ride.”

Since completing the CYCLE Kids Program in May, those same students, now 6th graders, have embraced their new-found love for cycling and the feeling of freedom that they experience while doing it. They wanted to continue to ride! Julie jumped at the opportunity to keep these student involved with cycling.

This past fall, she reviewed all of the biking skills with the 6th graders and allowed them to bike during their PE class and recess times, 2-3 times per week. Responding to the continued enthusiasm, Julie scheduled off-campus bike rides with the CYCLE Kids graduates.

“We left our campus at 9:00am, rode on the city streets through the residential neighborhood and also down the main street to our beach. Then we rode along the bike path, had a snack break and headed back to campus uphill! Members of the local biking coalition even took pictures as the students rode by. The kids had an amazing time. It was the highlight of their day for many of them. Over the course of 4 days, they rode about 8-10 miles and we had no mishaps the entire week!”

Building on the success of the school-time rides, Julie was able to create an after school bike club, using the bikes from the CYCLE Kids program. The club was implemented for the 6th grade CYCLE Kids graduates who had gained the ability to ride a bike and the knowledge to do it safely. It ran for one and half hours a week for six weeks. Each week featured a different ride, always starting from the school. The kids were able to work their way up to a grand-finale 14 mile ride! “A week doesn’t go by that the kids don’t ask if I am going to have bike club again this spring!”

Not only did these activities further the 6th graders excitement around biking, but they also stirred enthusiasm among the new 5th graders who are eagerly waiting to start the CYCLE Kids program this spring!

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