A Leadership Class at Bishop O’Byrne High School has spent six Wednesday’s sharing what they know about bike riding with students at partner elementary schools.
But some of the best learning happened on the bike rides from BOB, in SW Calgary, to schools in nearby communities.
On the day before the first visit to the elementary schools, one student wondered if she should ask for a deferral for her math test. It was right after the Leadership Class.
Heading to partner schools
“I’ve never ridden three kilometers,” she said. “Will I be too tired to write my test?”
Of course, after the ride to Father Whelihan in the neighboring community of Sundance, the student realized that not only was three kilometers an easy ride, it was invigorating and fun.
Another student borrowed a bike for the first trip. When asked how it went, she said the seat was comfortable, but it was really hard to pedal.
The young woman didn’t know about gears, or how to change them, until it was explained to her by her classmates.
So many high school students have such limited experience riding bikes that programs like Youth en Route are really eye-opening and empowering for them.
Teachers Bonnie Munn and Amanda Tam decided to change up their Leadership Program post-Covid to add a bike theme. YER was happy to support their work. We provided about 20 bikes, helmets, emergency bike kits and a curriculum guide.
In April, we arranged for four guest speakers, to talk about Helmet Safety, Wayfinding, Bike Maintenance and Traffic Safety. Then, students went off and prepared lesson plans to share with the younger students at their respective schools. Students created the best routes to their partner schools, and rode as a group.
Lesson planning challenges
“We really lean on the students to create their own plans and figure out ways to share what they are supposed to share and manage the younger students,” explains Tam. “Most groups started with a large group activity, and then moved to smaller groups.”
The students integrated rewards and games into the learning.
At Monsignor JJ O’Brien, students learned the part of the bike and got to win prizes with correct answers.
At St. Boniface, the students learned about helmet fitting, and then got to show their knowledge for prizes. Other students used a watermelon to show what can happen to your brain without a helmet. Of course, students loved it!
Preventing bike theft was an important component of learning. Students shared what good locks look like, and how to lock the frame, and not just a tire. They also told students to get their parents to register their bikes on Bike Index.
For the sixth and final session, students were asked to bring their bikes to school – and older students created routes and skills courses for them to practice their riding.
“These students get a real understanding of how to manage younger students,” says Tam. “It’s great experience for them. For us, adding the bike theme made more engaging and fun for both groups of students.”
We had some issues, too
We had a few hiccups on the way. Two bikes were stolen from BOB racks on the very first day (YER was able to replace both of them.) Another student, empowered by their newfound confidence, was riding outside of school. They fell and broke their collarbone.
But on the plus side: One student got a summer job with Pedalheads summer camp because of this experience. We were able to deliver six bikes with helmets to BOB students who wanted to ride, but didn’t have a bike. And we will leave 10 bikes and helmets at the school for next year.
This is a really terrific project for any Leadership Class. It’s a model that shows the impact Youth en Route can have across communities.
What students thought:
“I have learned that it is actually quite easy to go places on your bike.” Fiona
“I feel much more confident riding my bike.” Kobe
“I learned how to take a tire off and change it, and check for holes. I also learned how to keep children’s attention.” Irena
I thoroughly enjoyed the Youth en Route biking program because it allowed me to take on a leadership role with elementary students. I also enjoyed being able to bike to school and spend time with my friends.” Kelly
“I gained more confidence in riding my bike in places I felt uncomfortable before, such as busier roads.” Angelina
“Biking is tiring at first, but you’ll enjoy it once you see the beautiful scenery.” Diane
And we left a few bikes behind
And while Youth en Route’s mandate isn’t really about giving kids bikes, we were able to leave a few bikes behind for kids at the elementary schools that were excited about riding after the YER Program. This is thanks to our partnership with the Greater Forest Lawn Seniors Club Bike Shed.