Strider Education Foundation Launches Inclusive Biking Program
Learning to ride a bike is a key developmental milestone for many. The low impact aerobic exercise improves balance, motor skills and spatial awareness, while building strength and confidence. It can be especially beneficial for older adults and people with joint injuries and can be customized for different abilities and physical limitations. But as the Strider explains, many are unaware that "cycling isn't just a skill; it's a pathway to freedom and well-being, especially for those with disabilities.” The organization notes the crucial role cycling plays in providing mobility and fostering health among individuals facing unique challenges.
According to Lisa Weyer, Executive Director of the Strider Education Foundation, "unfortunately, the lack of awareness and understanding surrounding cycling as a mobility aid creates substantial obstacles for disabled individuals in accessing public spaces and facilities. Cycling offers individuals with disabilities not only a means of mobility and transportation but an effective way to improve health and well-being."
Measuring the therapeutic effectiveness of programs that teach people with developmental disabilities how to ride a bike is new, but preliminary studies indicate that such programs are linked to improvement in participating in daily routines, peer interaction, positive self-esteem and participation in community and extracurricular activities.
The organization started in 2017 with a "Learn-To-Ride Kindergarten PE Program" to equip schools with the necessary tools to teach children how to ride bikes in physical education classes. The program is now running in more than 1000 schools across all 50 states, reaching 100,000 students annually. Recently, North Dakota became one of the first states to distribute the program across every elementary school district statewide.
However, Strider recognized that it had overlooked a group of individuals who may not have had the opportunity to learn. This spurred the Foundation to create an “Inclusive Learn-To-Ride Program” so that all ages and abilities can experience the “joy of cycling.” The recently launched course is designed for riders who have never been on a bike before. Currently running in 10 states, 13 organizations have already incorporated it into their curricula.
“[The] program has been such an amazing experience for my Autistic students. It has given them the opportunity to learn a lifetime skill that they can participate in with their families, neighbors and friends,” enthused Erika Seaman, an elementary school Adapted PE teacher who piloted the program. “Sharing videos with parents who never thought they would see their child ride a bike is priceless. This program has given my students more confidence in themselves and has provided an outlet for exercise and play with their families and peers.”
Both the Inclusive Learn-To-Ride Program and All Kids Bike Learn-To-Ride Kindergarten PE Program follow a similar 8-lesson structure that begins with walking, balance and stride and progresses to pedal positioning on customizable cycles. For potential instructors, the program also offers a certification course to hold classes. Interested applicants interested are encouraged to visit the website for additional information on the program. You can also click here to access free resources from the Strider Education Foundation.