Powering Up for Physical Activity With Bikes at Will Rogers Middle School
As part of the POWERBike program at Will Rogers Middle School in Fair Oaks, California, students learn about bike safety and the health benefits of cycling, and then venture out into the community. The program doesn’t stop with riding either. Will Rogers is home to a bike shop where students learn to repair and maintain bikes. Handlebars, brakes, pedals, and valves are all part of a day’s work. The vibrant bike program at Will Rogers was the perfect fit for the Fire Up Your Feet Fall Challenge. One seventh grade student said, “I love riding bikes. I enjoy it because I love the breeze in your face as you're riding. It just makes you feel good. It can get you healthy and get your muscles going, and it makes your heart rate go up.”
Will Rogers’ school district no longer provides bussing other than for special education students. The school received a Safe Routes to School grant a few years ago and started the bike shop right after receiving the grant, helping make it safer for students to walk and bike to school. Over the past few years, the program has expanded significantly. They’ve taken over a portable classroom, and built bike racks that line the ceilings and walls. They have four student workstations equipped with stands and all manner of wrenches and ratchets.
Students ride every Friday during science class – one of the primary ways they logged physical activity for the Fire Up Your Feet Challenge. “In a one-period time, our students will get on their bikes, go and do creek studies,” said Program Director Naomi Harper, a science teacher at the school.
The program has been both empowering and educational for all students at the school. Instructors have worked to link bike repair lessons to curriculum. They’ve had math lessons on circumference and diameter using wheels, and even worked in English and composition lessons by requiring students to write technical manuals about repair processes.
In addition to the biking program, Will Rogers has a very robust physical education program. The students completed a 5k in their PE class, and their media program promotes physical fitness and wellness on morning announcements. Their Club Live is focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety, conducting surveys and working on a service learning project to include crosswalk painting, signage, and additional ways to improve safety.
The Fire Up Your Feet challenge was an awesome way to enhance the physical activity already taking place at Will Rogers Middle School. Staff and students weren’t content to just increase their physical activity. They are determined to give back by taking in and repairing lost, stolen, or abandoned bikes from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and City of Citrus Heights Police Department. The school then returns the like-new bikes to law enforcement agencies who distribute them to needy children during the holidays. What better gift to share this holiday season – the encouragement to move and be healthy.