Stephanie Leonard

Bikes extend reach of elementary school horticulture club

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When asked what she likes most about riding bikes, Mia didn’t hesitate. “I like that it feels like you’re a flying bird”.

Mia, a nine-year-old student at Marie L. Greenwood Academy, has participated in Each One Teach One Horticulture Club since first grade. Every Wednesday after school she gathers with friends and siblings to work in the school’s garden or ride bikes in the neighborhood.

She keeps coming back because “I know I have people I can trust here. I love the garden, and I love learning about all this stuff.”

Horticulture and biking club

Bicycle Colorado’s education team recently had the pleasure of teaching and riding with this incredible group of students. As Each One Teach One’s leader Mary Ann Bash explained, the club has always worked in the school garden, but group bike rides are a newer element. Bikes were first introduced to the horticulture club during summer programming, and at first many students did not know how to ride, including Mia.

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Bicycle Colorado educator Lilly Miller teaching the rules of the road

Bash remembers that not long after Mia learned to ride a bicycle, a teacher reported that Mia was persistently late to literacy class. This concerned Bash because literacy is one of Mia’s favorite classes. However, she laughed when recounting why Mia was missing class—she found Mia riding her bike outside on the playground.

Group riding

Bike riding is now a part of the weekly after-school programming. Each Wednesday, a faithful group of parent and community volunteers help Bash facilitate the club. Students alternate between learning to cultivate a garden and going on a guided group ride through the neighborhood. On group rides, students will often visit nearby schools to observe or volunteer in their gardens.

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To ensure that students know how to safely ride as a group, Bash contacted our education team to teach the club the rules of the road. After the lesson, students practiced signaling and riding in small groups to prepare for their future excursions.

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The impact

IMG_9563To date, the club has collected 28 bikes and helmets which were donated by community members or purchased from the Bike Depot—a bike co-op in Park Hill that Bash says is a great community resource. The bikes are stored in a shed decorated with a student-painted mural.

These bikes represent so much to both Bash and the students who ride them. Bash told me, “I just want to make sure all of the young children know the joys, freedom, confidence, balance and FUN that comes with bike riding.”

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“What I like about biking is you can go a lot of places.” Nostradamus is a six-year-old member of the club. His mom decorated helmets for both him and his sister.

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Six-year-old Joslyn with her uncle after learning to ride a bike. “I didn’t have training wheels, and I did it without them!”

To me, the impact of the horticulture and biking club is best demonstrated through Mia’s wise words as she explained to me why her biking nickname is Wolverine. “Over the summer I was learning how to bike ride, and I got cut by the chain,” she said. “It sort of looked like Wolverine cut me. But I didn’t cry, because we’re strong women.” I think every bike rider would agree that biking has shown us all how to be stronger, healthier and happier people.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Stephanie Leonard

About the Author: Stephanie Leonard

Stephanie oversees the expanding education department, which includes Safe Routes to School, Bike School and multi-modal transportation programs. As a Surly bike commuter, she enjoys seeing Coloradans get excited about bicycling for transportation. Steph can be found hiking, skiing or climbing across the state every chance that she gets.

COMMENTS (1)

Stephanie Leonard - Reply

If anyone is interested in joining group rides with Each One Teach One students, the group meets Wednesdays 3:05 – 4:30 at Marie L. Greenwood Academy (5130 Durham Ct, 80239). Please reach out to Mary Ann Bash at mary_bash@dpsk12.org

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