These days, when a phone screen, tablet or computer seems to always be in our hands, it might be easy to lose sight of the simple pleasure and benefits of riding a bike. On Friday in Sioux Falls, kindergarten and first-grade students at Cleveland Elementary received 24 bikes so they can experience this.
Maybe you remember how it felt to get a new bike. But have you ever seen the look on a kid’s face when they’re realizing it’s happening to them?
“I’m looking forward to today, and seeing the smiles, ‘cause they’re excited, they know something’s coming, but they don’t know what,“ Cleveland Elementary physical education teacher Gretchen Johnson said.
The 24 bikes come from the Strider Education Foundation out of Rapid City, a nonprofit that works to connect young kids with bikes. Spoke-n-Sport Bikes paid for the bikes. Spoke-n-Sport owner Chad Pickard says kids’ “spare time’s been replaced with screens, phones and tablets as well as sports that don’t include bikes.”
“We did a fundraiser,“ Pickard said. “We sold a neck gaiter, just a, kind of a winter keep-yourself-warm accessory, and all the money from those went directly to the Strider program. And then almost completely funded it, we got the bikes now, and then we’ll get our, the helmets for the kids next week.“
Riding a bike means a lot more than just exercise.
“We can connect kids with other kids socially, in a group atmosphere where they can ride bikes together, hopefully we can help reduce obesity, and then giving them the skill of riding a bike is something that they can use the rest of their life,“ Pickard said.
“This way they get to learn right away and then have that freedom that you and I had growing up: riding to the store, riding to their friends, riding to the park,“ Johnson said.
So it can start on Friday at Cleveland Elementary, but these smiles and bikes could mean years of benefits down the road.
“It’s a lifetime skill that they get to use their whole life,“ Johnson said. “It’s just not a one and done thing.“