Biking to School: Why, When, and How

Many adults can recall a time when they took their bicycles anywhere and everywhere, sometimes miles from home without a backward glance from their parents. However, the times have changed and safety has increasingly become a well-founded concern for parents of young children.S13PH_21147

The dual questions of: when is my child ready to bike to school alone and will they be able to get from home to school and back safely continue to rise parental concern and leave parents asking is it worth the risk to even let them bike?

So let’s break it down!

AGE:

lilly1The age a child starts biking to school is a big concern for many parents, but there is really no right answer to this because every child is different and develops at different times. For some children this can be as early as third grade or perhaps younger, for others it may mean middle school is the best time for them to begin biking. Therefore, it is important to go by what feels right to you as a parent, for your child, and your family. A great way to learn if your child is ready is to start by biking with them to school. This way you can see where their skill level is at and if there are things they still need to learn you can teach them as they go. After you believe they might be ready you can always do what my father did and follow them, secretly, in the car to reassure yourself that they are in fact ready to bike on their own.

Another great way to let your child ease into biking to school is by starting out young and giving them levels of freedom. Perhaps first they are just allowed to bike around the block alone. Then to a nearby park; each time increasing the distance and practicing this new form of communication.

If you are not comfortable with your student biking alone it is possible that a bike train in your community already exists or you could create one. A bike train is a group of children who bike to school together every day and are led by an adult supervisor. For more information click here.

Fact: According to the Safe Routes to School website: “In 1969, 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or bicycled to school. Compare that to 2009, where 13 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or bicycled to school.

SAFETY:

lilly2Many parents’ biggest fears are about traffic and safety and living in an area with high levels of traffic make this quite understandable. To address this concern it is good practice to ask yourself if biking to school is a possible option for your child, for some parents who live far away or in a very busy town the answer may be no, but perhaps there is another route to school that is safe for your child. If a safe route exists you can ride with your child and teach them how to ride the route safely; where the stop signs are; where they should be riding their bike; and areas where they may have to be more cautious.

Secondly, more general safety concerns can be prevented by teaching your child both the rules of the road and safe practices such as wearing a helmet every time they are on their bicycle. These lessons can be instilled early and be non-negotiable rules when your child is on their bike. For more educational information about safe riding and how to correctly wear a helmet check out the Bicycle Safer Journey which provides videos and quizzes to educate your child and have them sign the pledge to wear there helmet every time they ride their bike on Helmets on Heads

HEALTH:

Lilly3Finally, it is easy to say that there are just too many concerns and questions to deal with or that the risk is not worth it, but conceder this. According to Momentum Magazine “studies demonstrate that a 30-minute walk or bike ride to school greatly increase a child’s ability to focus in the class room”. To top that, the USDA recommends 60 minutes of physical activity for children each day. With the staggering numbers reported pertaining to childhood obesity and inactiveness biking proves to be a potentially successful way for children to not only hit their levels of active minutes each day and maintain a healthy weight, but also be more focused in school.

RESOURCES:

For more information check out these great resources!

Safe Routes to School: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

Bicycle Safer Journey: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/bicyclesaferjourney/

Helmets on Heads: http://www.helmetsonheads.org/

Get Out and Ride!

-Samantha C.

 

National Center for Safe Routes to School and Schwinn’s Helmets on Heads Mini-Grants Program

safe_routes_to_schools_logoThe National Center for Safe Routes to School and Schwinn’s Helmets on Heads program are teaming up to provide 25 $1,000 mini-grants to 25 schools across the country.  These mini-grants support a common goal of both organizations: to support educators, communities and families in encouraging children to safely bike to school.

“Communities across the country continue to be creative and successful in finding ways to make it safer for children to bicycle to school,” says Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center.  “We want to use these mini-grants to help support schools in their efforts to cultivate a culture of safe bicycling and helmet use for students.”

Applications are now being accepted for mini-grant activities planned for the second half of the 2014-2015 school year. These funds can be used to fund activities ranging from the nuts and bolts to help start or sustain bicycling programs, to new, inspiring ideas that explore the range of benefits of safe bicycling.  Selected mini-grant proposals will fit a school’s needs and interests around safe bicycling and helmet safety education, and will require that correct helmet use be a mandatory component of any program. Recipients are also asked to share the Helmets on Heads pledge with students or youth involved in their program.

Helmets-on-heads-blog“Schwinn, through the Helmets on Heads initiative, is excited to team up with the National Center to offer support to schools throughout the U.S.,” says Milissa Rick, Global Director of Consumer Activation, Pacific Cycle. “These grants will aid local communities in educating children and parents about the importance of wearing a helmet each and every time they ride a bicycle. And we think that this kind of local level education is one of the best ways to help instill good cycling habits.”

Mini-grant applications are due Wednesday, October 22, 2014, and award winners will be announced in December. The mini-grant activities should occur between January 1, 2015, and the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

Download the application or apply online.

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Vasu

Communications Manager, Safe Routes to School Programs

vasu@hsrc.unc.edu

(919) 962-7769

A Safe Summer with John Wayne Cancer Foundation

Looking for something fun to do with the kids this summer? Schwinn and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation Block the Blaze skin cancer education program have teamed up to host an exciting video contest. The contest makes learning about skin cancer prevention and self screening simple, easy and fun!John Wayne

Entering is easy!

Anyone age 9 (as of June 1st) and older can submit a 15 second video with sun safe tips for preventing skin cancer and up to 10 winners will receive a Schwinn Cruiser bike! Plus the top 10 ranked video submissions will be posted on John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s social channels and website. Talk about 15 seconds of fame!

Videos can be submitted until August 24th so start brainstorming now! Entries will be accepted on YouTube, Instagram and can be submitted here: http://bit.ly/SunSafe4Schwinn

Both Schwinn through its nonprofit foundation Helmet on Heads and John Wayne Cancer Foundation are committed to educate the public about staying safe while having fun outdoors. Safe habits are best learned when young and can be contagious when the youth get behind it. After all who better to communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to kids than kids themselves!

Need a bit of inspiration to get started? Think of the 5 sun safe tips: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, cover with clothing and seek shade. Check out this video below that several junior lifeguards put together to remind people to say #sunsafe4schwinn this summer and every summer!

Beating the Summertime Blahhs: DIY Whimsical Picnic

Summer is a wonderful time when you are a kid. There is no school, just a few organized sports games or other activities in the evenings and ample amount of time to catch up on all that play time you have missed during the school year.

The first few weeks are always a blast! There are so many things to do and see, but inevitably the Summer boredom eventually kicks in.
So what do you do when the daytime blahhs occur and the kids are saying “I’m bored” every two minutes?

FacebookTwitterWell this is exactly the conversation I had with my friend Lizzy last week. I am expecting my two younger cousins, ages 12 and 9 to come over for a weekend and although I am excited to see them, I have been incredibly nervous about how to keep them entertained for a whole weekend and stay within my small budget (aka keeping it as free as possible).

Lizzy happens to be a babysitter for two children around the same age and had just recently taken the kids to what she told them would be an over-the-top picnic adventure at a local park that was just a short bike ride from the house. She let me in on a few of her strategies to create a whimsical picnic, keep the munchkins entertained, and your wallet happy.

Tips to create an affordable and whimsical picnic:

1. Utilize what you already have at home:

  • Lizzy took inventory the day before of everything the family already had, such as a bed sheet, several board games, a few crates and bungee cords to carry the items on the bicycles, and cake mix for a cupcake snack.
  • Using items that were already available made her shopping list short and also helped to rejuvenate items that the kids had grown bored of. After all Yahtzee at an outdoor picnic is much more entertaining than Yahtzee at a kitchen table.

2. Add a touch of whimsy:

  • Since Lizzy wanted the picnic to be extra special she went to pick up a few added decorations from Walmart the night before.
  • A few simple and affordable decorations such as lanterns, paper flowers, pillows, and candles help make the atmosphere that much more exciting and gives the picnic that over-the-top extravagant feeling.
  • The kids also like helping to decorate the picnic area with fun and colorful decorations!

3. Make travel simple, fun, and a healthy experience:

  • Lizzy thought it would be a great idea to get to the picnic by bicycle. The kids already had two Mongoose bicycles in the garage so all she had to do was ride her Schwinn Cruiser over that morning and strap the crates on to the bikes with bungee cords.
  • Biking to your destination gives it a secretive and fun feel reminiscent of the book The Secret Garden and adds to the whole experience.
  • Plus, bonus points, biking is great exercise and gets the kids moving!

4. Let them take control of setting up the picnic:

  • Once you get to your destination let the kids set up all the goodies that you have packed in the crate. This well help them feel like they helped create the picnic and makes it even more special!

5. Enjoy!

  • After all the setup is complete the possibilities are endless! Play games, eat cupcakes, watch the clouds, and enjoy the spontaneity of a whimsical picnic!
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Kiss those blahh days away and Get Out and Ride!

– Samantha C.

 

Bicycles and Life Lessons: 5 Classic Kid’s Movies

When you are a kid a bicycle is truly your vehicle to freedom and adventure and no one knows that better than Hollywood.  After all what better way to solve a crime, locate lost pirate treasures, or simply escape the world of adults than by bike. The following are five classic kids’ films and five life lessons we learned from them.  Why are we counting down these films? Well, let’s just say that we are planning another big adventure, so stay tuned!

Now and Then (1995): This movie is perhaps one of the most defining childhood movies for girls at the time (I know it was for me). Now and Then took “Girl Power” to another level. In the movie four childhood friends, Samantha, Roberta, Chrissy, and Tina return to the memories of their childhood in the momentous summer of 1970. Initially the girls’ largest concern was how to pool money for their dream treehouse, but soon after a late night cemetery séance they become obsessed with finding out what happened to “Dear Johnny”. Becoming a new age version of Nancy Drew, they use their bikes to travel to a neighboring town’s library to search for clues. In a movie about friendship and the transition to girlhood to womanhood, bicycles serve as a vehicle for freedom and sisterhood.

gifLife Lesson: True friends will always be there, no matter what happens.

pee-wees-big-adventure-dvd-coverPee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985): Pee Wee Herman, a child in his own right, goes for his first big adventure in this eighties film. After his beloved Schwinn bicycle is stolen by his arch nemesis, Francis Buxton, Pee Wee sets off on a cross-country adventure to the Alamo where he believes his bike is located. Pee Wee discovers news things, new people, and eventually ends up in Hollywood where they’re making a film about, you guessed it, bikes!

Life Lesson: Sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy the whimsy of life.

My Girl (1991): It’s the summer of 1972 and Vada, an 11 year old girl, is in love with her teacher, a hypochondriac, and obsessed with death. With a father that runs a funeral parlor and a deep seeded personal belief that she was the cause of her mother’s death, it isn’t really surprising.  Despite all of these personal quirks her best friend, Thomas J. sticks by her side. Their summer adventure is complete with kisses, bikes, and tragedies that lead to a story that shows the true growing pains of entering adolescence.large

Life Lesson: Growing up is hard and sometimes life isn’t fair, so cherish each happy memory and live each day to the fullest.

Goonies-posterThe Goonies (1985): A group a friends face the end of the world as they know it when they find out their neighborhood, aka “the Goon Docks” is facing foreclosure to make room for a Country Club. Feeling powerless to the situation the boys escape for one last adventure to save their homes after finding an old newspaper clipping, a Spanish map, and an artifact that relates to a local rumor that there is hidden pirate treasure in the area. Bikes in tow, they find themselves in a sticky situation when the map leads them to a criminal’s hideout. The Goonies is a must see for a timeless tale of just how important friendships are.

Life Lesson: “It’s our time”. Never give up on something you believe is right.

The Karate Kid (1984): “Wax on; wax off”.  After moving to California from New Jersey, the main character, Daniel finds that his mother’s promises of posh living were not completely accurate. On top of that he struggles to fit in to the local crowd and quickly accumulates grief from a group of bullies who taunt him relentlessly even when he is just off on a bike ride alone. Just when life seems like it will never get better Daniel meets his soon to be mentor, Mr. Miyagi, who shows Daniel the art of karate and shows us how to believe in ourselves.

tumblr_mn8uppjc0i1qc3bo6o1_500Life Lesson: First learn stand, then learn fly.” It takes time to reach your dreams.

Have a suggestion for movies we missed? Leave a comment and let us know your favorite classic kid’s movie that featured bicycles below!

Get out and ride!

-Samantha