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North Delta students making great strides with new balance bikes

Gibson Elementary students among first to ride the bikes as part of a physical literacy initiative
Elementary students across the Delta School District now have the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike as part of a new physical literacy initiative. (Delta School District photo)

Elementary students across Delta will now have the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike through their schools.

As part of a new physical literacy initiative, the Delta School District has acquired two sets of 24 Strider balance bikes plus helmets, which can be booked by schools for a month at a time.

The bikes have low frames and no pedals, allowing kids to develop confidence in two-wheel balance, co-ordination and bike handling, according to a district press release.

To start, the bikes are available at Ladner Elementary and Gibson Elementary in North Delta, whose vice-principal Darryl Penny was the driving force behind the new initiative.

“We are so excited to have two sets of bikes that can be shared across our elementary schools, to give kids that might not have access to a bike at home the chance to learn the valuable life skill of riding a bike,” Penny said in a press release.

Gibson Elementary is part of the Active School Travel Pilot Program, an initiative led by BC Health Communities Society and funded by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure aimed at increasing the number of students using active transportation, such as walking or biking, in their daily commute between home and school, according to government press release.

The program launched in January of 2021 with an initial two-year $400,000 commitment by the province, which allowed for the program’s development and the participation of 11 schools across B.C.

Gibson was one of 12 schools added to the pilot in January of 2022 following an additional investment of $280,000, and this fall the school introduced the Walking School Bus Program, in which staff and parent volunteers accompany students as they walk from nearby Delview Park to the school in morning and back in the afternoon.

READ MORE: North Delta school to take part in active transportation pilot program (Jan. 20, 2022)

“I had been researching other ways to get students more active and had heard about the Strider Bikes Learn to Ride program for students in the USA. I called them to see if they offered this in Canada and, fortunately for us, they were just setting up the program here,” Penny said.

According to the release, bike riding helps children develop physically and mentally, gives them greater confidence, reduces stress and provides better focus.

“We know that being active supports lasting changes in physical, mental and social well-being,” Penny said. “In our two pilot schools, kids are having so much fun with these bikes.

“Also, it’s great to think that learning how to ride a bike is providing them with a different way of getting to school, which ultimately has the potential to positively impact our environment. It’s a win-win for the student and our school community.”

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James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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