More Saskatoon Public Schools' students will experience the excitement of riding a bike thanks to the support of both community organizations and other students.
As part of the division's Move to Grow initiative, a classroom set of 30 bicycles contributed by Bridge City Bike Co-op will be available to elementary classes participating in the City of Saskatoon's Learn to Ride Safe program for Grade 3.
"It starts from five years ago when we started Move to Grow and really pushed active transportation," said Jay Harvey, chair of the division's Move to Grow committee and vice principal at Tommy Douglas Collegiate.
"Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation (SPSF) gave us a grant to purchase a trailer and this trailer will follow the City of Saskatoon's Learn to Ride Safe program. This allows us to provide equity for everybody involved; everybody will be able to participate, even if they don't have a bike. After that, it could be signed out by schools if they want to go out on a bike class trip."
Harvey said bike safety and security for students riding their bikes to school were concerns identified by parents. Education, including Learn to Ride Safe, is helping address safety concerns. In terms of bicycle security, students in the welding program at Walter Murray Collegiate are making racks for schools so students have a secure place to lock up their bikes.
Opportunities to champion Move to Grow were limited during the past two years due to the pandemic, but Harvey said now is a good time to revitalize the program. One way of doing that is through Move to Grow Week, May 16-20. The week includes experiences and activities such as Move to Grow Monday, Trekking Tuesday, and Bike to School Day on Thursday to encourage students, staff, and families to be more active.
"We knew before the pandemic how important movement is (for students). Coming out of the pandemic, I think we are going to see how much more important staying active and healthy is," Harvey said. "We have five pillars: the active transportation piece, active classrooms, active recess, and we really want to emphasize quality daily physical education in our schools. We don't want to forget about our staff, so we have a pillar dedicated to staff wellness as well."
Encouraging school communities to be more active includes working with groups within the wider community — such as the bike co-op and SPSF— as well as creating learning opportunities for students in the Off the Grid program to maintain the bikes and construction students to outfit the trailer that will house and transport the bicycles.
"We want this to be a community initiative so the more we can get our communities together the better. At Tommy Douglas we have a program (Off the Grid) that really emphasizes physical activity as part of the program. They have secured a grant to purchase bike tune-up equipment and have been instructed — in partnership with Bike Doctor — on how to do some of this stuff," Harvey said.
"The goal is every year this group can come in, get some hands-on learning, and learn how to tune-up and service bikes before they go out to schools. It's a great partnership for us in getting as many people on board as possible."