School News, Sports

Warm Springs Middle School receives bike grant to add cycling to academic & focus efforts

Dozens of bicycles will be added to Warm Springs Middle School’s equipment, and will be integrated into academic support programs to help students focus and achieve in the classroom.

A new bicycle education program will teach students to ride bikes through Riding For Focus (R4F), a program that uses cycling as a tool in the classroom to get kids moving, help increase student motivation and focus, and improve their well-being.

Jamie Harris, Principal at Warm Springs Middle School, and school staff will receive a fleet of specialized bikes and helmets after receiving a Riding For Focus program grant.

Riding For Focus (R4F) was developed by Outride, a non-profit organization in California dedicated to improving the lives of youth through cycling.

“Outride’s Riding For Focus program, research, and community grants harness the benefits of cycling for the cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical well-being of youth and their communities,” said grant officials.

A Riding For Focus grant provides schools with everything needed to get 6th-8th grade students riding, including bikes, helmets, teacher training, and curriculum.

Warm Springs Middle School is one of over 225 middle schools across the U.S. and Canada that have implemented the program.

Warm Springs Middle School and Beckley-Stratton Middle School in Beckley were the only two West Virginia schools to receive the grants.

Other grantees are located around the country, from California to Texas, North Dakota, Maryland, Alabama and Maine, plus several other states in between.

Riding For Focus Teacher Champions keep Riding For Focus programs operating as they teach students to ride, sharing the joy of bicycling and its benefits on our brains and well-being.

“Heart rate tracking indicates students can reach half of their daily activity levels in a 50–60 minute Riding for Focus class,” said Outride.

“Outride’s applied research has found that 87% of students report having fun in Riding for Focus, even those who typically don’t like school or PE class. The program also gets new kids on bikes. On average, 10-20% of students at a school don’t know how to ride a bike before the program. By the end of R4F, students who didn’t know how to ride feel confident riding bikes,” said the group.

“It’s been challenging the past three years and youth need a safe outlet to experience freedom and joy. There’s no better way to do that than by riding bikes,” says Lauren Freeman, Riding For Focus Program Manager.

“Students need bikes now more than ever and we at Outride are committed to getting more youth on bikes. We are so thrilled to see students riding at Warm Springs Middle School,” said Freeman.

Schools can acquire R4F via two pathways – by purchasing the program, or for schools serving under-resourced communities, by applying for a program grant.

The bicycle program will begin here in the 2023-2024 school year.