Bikes for tykes: Kindergarteners learn to ride bicycles at Meadow Lands

Dec. 10—Meadow Lands Elementary School is one of 734 schools in the country participating in the "All Kids Bike" program through the Strider Education Foundation.

Strider's mission with the program is to teach every child in America how to ride a bike in kindergarten PE class.

Amy Bouchard, PE teacher at Meadow Lands, said the school was able to raise $6,000 through sponsors to afford the 24 bikes, 24 helmets, one adult bike and a pedal conversion kit.

"Once the kids progress to lesson four on the balance bikes, then we'll add the pedals and then we'll start learning to ride from there," she said. "We won't have training wheels at all."

Bouchard said the students will begin lesson one on Monday.

"They're really excited," she said. "Our older students are a little disappointed that it's not for them but I told them this is a great opportunity for our kindergarten students and usually when we get a good, new program, it starts at fifth grade and goes down. This is the first time it will start at kindergarten."

Not all children have the chance to learn to ride a bike, Bouchard said.

"They won't learn unless they get the opportunity," she said. "The Strider Foundation gives a five-year contingency plan and they expect the bikes to last up to seven years so we'll teach about 1,000 students how to ride a bike."

Bouchard said learning to ride a bike is a life skill.

"It's something you can do to impact your mental wellness, your physical wellness and it's a skill that carries over into their adult life," she said.

According to the "All Kids Bike" website, one in four kids will ride a bike this year and children ages 2 to 10 in the United States spend an average of 18.6 hours per week in front of a screen.

The foundation's solution to some of those issues is to get kids off their screens and engaged with other kids. The goals are to help students develop physically and mentally, give them greater confidence, reduce stress and provide better focus.

"I can't wait to see their faces," Bouchard said. "Lesson one, we learn about fitting a bike helmet; we learn how to get on the bike; we learn how to use the kickstand. Lesson two, we actually start learning about how to balance and start moving with the bikes."