“It’s as easy as riding a bike” now has more meaning to the students of Washburn Elementary School.
Thanks to the innovative efforts of Matthew Goodness, teacher of Elementary Physical Education and Elementary Adapted Physical Education, kindergarten students have the opportunity and equipment needed to learn to ride bicycles. Goodness established the All Kids Bike Program at the school.
After hosting several bicycle safety programs, Goodness realized that many of the students at Washburn Elementary did not have access to bicycles or had the opportunity to learn.
“In the past two years the physical education department has worked to expand its lifetime fitness options to include biking,” Goodness says. “I’ve been working to purchase a fleet of bikes to help all students gain the skills necessary to bike.”
Goodness learned about the Strider® Bike Company, which manufacturers bicycles that can be adjusted as a child learns to ride. The company provides bicycles and a curriculum to support everything teachers need to teach children how to ride bikes, including teacher training and certification, a structured 8-lesson plan, a fleet of 22 Strider® 14-inch Balance Bikes, 22 Pedal Conversion, Kits, 22 fully-adjustable helmets, and a five-year support plan.
Goodness proceeded to acquire the bikes by partnering with North Coast Cycling Association, the Washburn Parent-Teacher Association, Washburn School District, and numerous other individuals. Essentia Health provided a $4,000 grant. Finally, after two years of planning, Washburn Elementary became the first school in Wisconsin to use the Strider® Bike program for bicycle education.
“The Strider® option helps the students feel secure because the bikes can be converted as they learn,” says Goodness. “I coached a student who was particularly reluctant to learn, and with this style of bike, she was starting to pedal by the fourth day.”
“Bikes are a right of passage for kids,” says Goodness. “Being able to hop on your bike to visit friends or go to the park provides freedom.”