When you’re in high school, February means a new beginning with new subjects, classmates and teachers.
For Phys-Ed 20 & 30 students at one of our Climate Improvement Fund project schools, the new semester started with a survey to help the teacher understand what her students hoped to get out of their upcoming Bike Unit. While the provincial PE curriculum stresses skills for active living, bike riding is rarely taught mostly because of the lack of equipment. Our program, where we donate fleets of 40 refurbished bikes with helmets to a school, gives kids the chance to learn this important life skill during PE classes.
The survey provided an interesting look into the minds of youth as they consider riding. We’re not going to name the school, to ensure student privacy as we share their comments and data.
We learned about the haves, and the have-nots
This survey was designed to help the teacher understand what cycling skills her students had, and what they wanted to improve on learn more about. What we learned was that of the 35 per cent of students that had bikes, most were pretty confident on them. 45 per cent used them for fun and recreation, mostly on city pathways.
One quarter of these kids reported using their bike to “get places.” And one quarter reported going on bike rides of more than two hours.
But a full 55 per cent of the students didn’t own or have access to a bike and felt they needed better skills. Two students just wanted to learn to ride a bike.
Comments showed students are keen
The survey received many comments like this: I want to learn to get comfortable with riding a bike for long periods of time because although I know how to ride a bike, I have never ridden long distances. This meshes with our experience that kids age 15-18 don’t understand what riding five kilometers feels like and how long it takes.
Other student goals for the bike unit:
- “To ride for a longer period of time, get better at it”
- “I hope to learn new routes and pathways around Calgary as I’m not the best at navigating”
- “How to get up hills better”
No hands please!
And, yes about ¼ of the students wanted to learn to ride with “no hands!”
And then there was this comment: “I don’t really expect to learn anything. I’m just happy that this is finally an actual unit.”
Yes, we agree with you. We are happy to help support it to happen. Thanks to our funders at Alberta EcoTrust and the dedicated volunteers at the Greater Forest Lawn Seniors center bike shed who help us get bikes to schools for this purpose.
We will continue to follow this class as they learn to ride.