Thousands of students, parents, families, and educators across the Kansas City region walked to school on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, as part of International Walk to School Day organized by BikeWalkKC, MARC, and KCHealthyKids. A record 91 schools in the Greater Kansas City and Lawrence areas participated this year, up from 66 schools in 2015 (a 38% increase). […]
Category Archives: Safe Routes to School
BikeWalkKC Goes Back to School
The fall semester is upon us, which means BikeWalkKC youth instructors are busy providing BLAST, Earn-a-Bike, and Youth Ambassadors/Bike Club training throughout the Kansas City area. We are excited to welcome aboard six new Youth Education Instructors to help expand our reach to more schools across the region. Kids in 15 elementary and high schools across seven […]
BikeWalkKC Collaborates with Rodgers Health to Teach Kids Bike Safety
This summer we partnered with Rodgers Health to bring our Youth Education programs to kids at two KC Housing Authority communities in the Old Northeast area. 25 kids participated in Earn-a-Bike and BLAST (Bike Lesson And Safety Training). We are excited about the opportunities this new partnership provides BikeWalkKC to begin measuring the health outcomes […]
Operation Breakthrough’s Leadership Class visits BikeWalkKC
This summer we’ve been partnering with Operation Breakthrough to bring our Youth Education program to their students. Their Leadership class has been learning about bike safety and handling skills, bike maintenance, active transportation advocacy, and walkability audits. This morning they celebrated their hard work with a group ride to visit the BikeWalkKC office for ice cream and […]
Lawrence schools to adopt BLAST curriculum district-wide, purchase fleet of bicycles
Lawrence school district will adopt BikeWalkKC’s Bicycle Lesson and Safety Training (BLAST) program and invest in a bike fleet to bring bike safety education and safe routes to school programming to the school district in the 2016-17 school year. The Lawrence Health Department brought BikeWalkKC in during the Spring 2016 to pilot BLAST at four schools. It was very successful and we […]
Earn-A-Bike Students get two cool treats: a bicycle and ice cream
Despite a 105+ degree heat index, students at Border Star Montessori left school hot but happy on July 5th. After five weeks of attending BikeWalkKC’s summer Earn-A-Bike program, 11 participants were rewarded with two cool treats: a bicycle and ice cream. Border Star Montessori school, in the Kansas City Public School District, is situated alongside […]
Youth Ambassadors at East High School: A Catalyzing Force!
By Maggie Priesmeyer, Education Programs Manager
The idea of a bike program at East High School in the Kansas City Public School District started small– with an email several months ago from a math teacher interested in bringing bicycle education to a few of his students. After an initial planning meeting and settling on a curriculum flow and start date of March 24th, BikeWalkKC expected six or seven student applications to roll in. This year, 2016, would be considered the pilot year, and evaluation of the pilot would help inform future programs at East.
Little did BikeWalkKC know the overwhelming response the program would receive, the incredible support from teachers, staff and parents it would gather, and the tremendous success the inaugural cohort would be. In only four days, Sixty students applied to be in the Youth Ambassadors program. After narrowing the list down, twenty-six East High School students participated, BikeWalkKC’s biggest after school program yet.Someone made a joke about hand signals during the first class of East High School’s bicycle program (March 24th).
East High School is located at 20th and Van Brunt, in the heart of Kansas City’s east side. Over 95% of the students and their families live below the poverty line. Additionally, East teaches the majority of New American students entering the KCPS school district.
The East High School Youth Ambassadors cohort presented BikeWalkKC with an extremely rewarding and unique experience. To start, eighty percent of the cohort were New Americans, and most of the group had little to no experience with bicycling. During introductions on the first day, BikeWalkKC instructors learned that there were over 10 languages represented in one room and students were from twelve regions around the world, including: Myanmar, Malaysia, Iraq, Thailand, Mexico, Central African Republic, Congo, Nepal, Rwanda, Sudan, Cambodia, and the United States.
Additionally, the growth in skill and confidence was staggering. Tremendous progress was made from the first week of learning how to ride in a straight line on the school parking lot, to the longest bike ride adventure: 9 miles to the River Market and back.
BikeWalkKC and the four teacher champions at East are proud to share success stories from the 2016 East High School Youth Ambassadors cohort:
- 26 total students graduated
- Each student received a bike, helmet, bicycle lock and light set
- The group rode a total of 42 miles over the eight week course
- Each student created their own bicycle route map as a school math assignment
- Three students from Iraq, who had only ever ridden tricycles, learned how to ride on two wheels
- Students tackled all challenges with smiling faces; even 8% elevation changes!
- As soon as students received their bicycles on the last day, the school bike rack was full the next day
- The program garnered amazing support from other school staff, the principal, neighbors and friends.
- 15 bicycles were donated by teachers and parents*
- Over $600 was donated for materials and the continuation of the program*
It was evident when bicycling around Kansas City’s east side (with all 26 students and 6 adults), that there is an extreme disparity in the presence of bicycle infrastructure (not to mention HILLS). Several of the students expressed that if there was a dedicated or even protected lane, they would be more likely to ride their bikes to school and other activities. East students hope that through this program, awareness will grow for the importance of protected and connected bicycle facilities for all areas of Kansas City.
This year will mark the first of many Youth Ambassador cohorts at East High School. We hope that the enthusiasm for bicycling and active transportation will not only grow within the school culture, but also set a precedent for other high schools in the district and beyond.
*Thanks to the super champions at East High School: Andrew Killen, Patrick Brier, Nate Zier and Zach McCullough
And to all who donated! The success of the program wouldn’t be possible without your generous support:
Tiffany Siner, Megan Scanlon, Richard Hill, Cynthia Bleck, Rita Killen, Chris & Dan Danford, Sherry Fetzer, Thomas Herrera, Blayne Marshall, Carolyn Hammond, Rhea Muchalla LeGrande, City of Shawnee, Kimberly Jacobs, Linda Brines and Charles White.
May News! Bike Month, Welcome to Thomas Morefield and Streetcar Fun
It’s Bike Month! Tour de Bier is in just over a week and there are plenty of bike-themed activities coming up this month along with some other action items and celebration of some successes. May is Bike Month May is Bike Month. Join the other organizations, schools and municipalities who have posted their information on our […]
Bike Month is Here!– National Protected Bike Lane Week, Bike-In Movies, Special B-cycle Kiosk Posters and More
Bike Month 2016 is here! We wanted to take a moment and highlight the events we already have planned for this year and encourage you to go to the KC Bike Month site and add your own! National Bike To School Day is Wednesday, May 4th. Ask your school about what they have planned and […]
A Successful Beginning to the Youth Ambassadors Program
This spring the Linwood YMCA, in conjunction with nearby KCPS elementary and high schools, hosted a Youth Ambassadors program delivered by staff from our Youth Education team. The program lasted 10 weeks and focused on providing participants with the knowledge, tools and practice to become active transportation advocates. The students ranged in age from fourth grade […]