All Kids Bike eight week program teaches bike safety to all USD 202 kindergarten students.
For many people, learning how to ride a bike was both nerve-wracking and freeing. Maurica Gilliland, physical education teacher at Junction Elementary, remembers those early bike riding days, "As a kid, I loved the feelings of independence, confidence, and wellbeing that came with riding a bike." It was a desire to provide a similar experience to TUSD 202 students that made her suggest that the district apply for the All Kids Bike program. All Kids Bike is a national program that provides curriculum and bikes for kindergarten physical education classes. The bikes they provide are 2-in-1, balance-to-pedal conversion bikes that help riders gain confidence and learn more advanced skills on a balance bike. Then, when students are ready, it easily transforms into a pedal bike.
Ms. Gilliland has been a part of school bike programs in the past, and through that experience, she learned that many students do not get the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike. Determined to ensure that all TUSD 202 students are able to learn bike riding, she had Ms. Compton, Junction Elementary Principal, apply on behalf of all four elementary schools for the All Kids Bike program. "Gaining exposure to biking at a young age will be a lifetime gift that can impact the whole child, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally," she said.
There are many reasons why learning how to ride a bike is beneficial for students. "We are learning more and more about how physical activity improves brain function and mental health along with fitness, and bike riding is a great lifelong option for being physically active. Another reason for kids to learn to ride bikes is that it is a form of transportation that is good for the earth. In many countries, biking is a major source of transportation," added Gilliland.
The 2020 Kansas City Regional Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, developed by local children’s hospitals and health-centered organizations, gave the category of Overall Physical Activity for children in the Kansas City region a grade of C-. Children’s Mercy Hospital found that approximately 42.5% of children 2-17 in the Kansas City area were active at least 60 minutes of every day of the past week. In the category of Active Transportation by youth, the region was given a grade of an F. This was based off of data that showed very few children walk or bike to school. These numbers are concerning, but it motivates our schools to pursue opportunities and programs like All Kids Bike.
Turner Recreation Commission also recognized the importance of our community's children learning how to ride a bike, which is why they stepped in and provided the funding for the program once TUSD 202's application was approved. This was an incredibly generous donation by TRC and our schools appreciate their support!
The program started at Junction Elementary during the first semester and will rotate to the other elementary buildings as they cycle through the eight week program. So far, Gilliland has reported that the program has been successful. "One of the reasons that the All Kids Bike program is nice to have in school is that it comes with a curriculum that provides lessons on proper use and safety regarding helmets and bikes. The use of this curriculum ensures the safety aspects are presented. The program also provides opportunities for the teacher to meet all the SHAPE America physical education standards. Meeting the standards makes the All Kids Bike program a 'win' for students and teachers," she shared.
We are looking forward to seeing the success of this program continue as it is implemented at our other elementary schools!
A final thought from Ms. Gilliland: "Turner has a wonderful history of coming together to do what is right and good for families. The All Kids Bike program provided a great opportunity for our community to provide our students with a wonderful gift. Turner Recreation and the school administration came together to make this program happen. I am thankful for, impressed with, and honored to be a part of our Turner community.
TUSD 202 is hoping to purchase another set of bikes through the program. If you or someone you know is interested in donating, please contact Lauren Aiello at AielloL@TurnerUSD202.org.