At 74th Street Elementary School
Bike riding is one of the most beneficial workouts for children and adults alike. Biking increases cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, improves joint flexibility and movement, and allows participants to view our world through an up close and personal lens.
However, as rewarding as biking is, financial and time restraints can create many biking barriers among families in South los Angeles. All Kids Bike, a nonprofit organization, is cycling its way through all public schools across America with their Kindergarten-Learn-to-Ride PE program. All Kids Bike visited 74th Street Elementary School on Sept. 22 to unveil brand new balance bikes and give some young children an opportunity to take the bikes for a test run.
All Kids Bike was established in 2018, and is a non-profit organization that is active in over a thousand schools across America. All Kids Bike Public Relations and Project Manager, Lauren Tadlock, says, “We are on a mission to teach every child in America how to ride a bike in Kindergarten P.E. class. We have found that only one in four kids will learn how to ride a bike each year. A way that we really wanted to bring the opportunity and joy of learning how to ride a bike is to implement this program with our nation’s youngest learners and in the public school system.”
All Kids Bike has partnered with Yamaha Motor Corp. to initiate a new program throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Kindergarten-Learn-to-Ride PE is being put in place thanks to Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative which is providing $9,000 to 74th Street Elementary School in support of the new program. The excitement and joy at the event was palpable with school principal, Karen Ireland saying,
“In Black and Brown communities specifically we face so many health disparities and a lot of other mental health issues,” said Karen Ireland, principal of 74th Street Elementary School. “We know how important exercise, being outdoors, getting Vitamin D, is in order to lift your spirits and overall health and wellness. To have a program like this partner with us and start to encourage kids to get back outside and get social and exercise like we used to pre-pandemic is such a blessing. I know a lot of parents work and provide for their families, but the cost of living is high—so many things are expensive—we may not all have the luxury to purchase bikes.”
Sept. 22 was an exciting day as many children participated in a brief balance bike riding course. In addition to the unveiling of brand new bikes, Yamaha celebrity ambassadors and athletes were present. Several Yamaha athletes and ambassadors were on board to help assist children with riding around the 74th Street Elementary School playground. Athletes and ambassadors include; Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac, a 2-time Monster Energy Supercross 450 Champion, 4-time Pro Motocross 450 Champion, and 2022 Motocross of Nations Winner; Yamaha Ambassador Ryan Villopoto, the 4-time Supercross Champion, 2-time 450 Motocross Champion, and 3-time 250 Motocross Champion; Yamaha Ambassador Damon Bradshaw, known as one of the all-time top 10 Supercross riders; and Yamaha Bicycles and All Kids Bike ambassador Brian Lopes, a Mountain Bike and BMX Hall of Fame inductee.
Jennifer Davie, Yamaha MotorSports, USA marketing and events manager said, “We got involved with All Kids Bike through our outdoor access initiative. And that’s where we provide all the donations to All Kids Bike. We take a small piece of each vehicle that we sell and it goes into a fund where we give grants to nonprofits that are doing things to encourage safe, responsible, outdoor recreational use.”
The new program provides tools necessary in order to successfully learn to ride for the next seven to ten years. Tools include; teacher training and certification, a fleet of 24 bikes, 24 pedal conversion kits, 24 helmets; an instructional bike for the teacher; 2 rolling metal bike storage racks, and an online curriculum program and access to a resource portal and live support for the life of the program.
Tadlock continues, “Balance bikes are such a great way for those kids to be introduced to learn how to bike ride. They do all start off in balance mode, the kids are able to comfortably place both of their feet on the ground. No training wheels, no brakes, no pedals, and so they develop that skill of learning how to balance first. Eventually the program curriculum does transition into a pedal progression.”
As she watched the smiles and laughter on the children’s faces while biking, Jennifer Davie of Yamaha MotorSports said, “I’ve been with Yamaha for 26 years and I love the organization, I love the people, I love things like this that we get to do. We get to help bring joy and fulfillment to peoples lives.”