Education, Local News

Nonprofit will send bikes to help all Hart students learn to ride

Outride, a California-based nonprofit, will be shipping bicycles to James Hart School in Homewood through its Riding For Focus program that encourages students to learn to ride.

Hart is one of 55 recipients in the U.S. and Canada to be included in the program. Outride sees cycling benefitting the cognitive, socio-emotional and physical well-being of youth and the community. 

Hart teacher Matt Somodi, who applied for the program, recognized that some students didn’t know how to ride a bike. He said he sees the program as “a way for all our kids to have the chance to enjoy riding a bike and experience the health benefits that come from riding.” 

Smodi has been invited to an Outride training program in California this month.

Homewood District 153 will receive 30 bikes and helmets in August. The bikes will be used starting this school year and remain at Hart for the next group of students to use in future years.

Outride has helped 50,000 students through its Ride For Focus program. Outride reports: “Around 85% of students report enjoying their experience in Riding for Focus, even those who are typically less enthusiastic about school or physical education classes. Additionally, heart rate tracking has demonstrated that it’s a great way to get students moving, with classes achieving close to half of their recommended daily activity levels during a 50-60 minute Riding for Focus class.” 

District 153 already has a similar program at Willow School.

The All Kids Bike program helps WIllow’s kindergarteners learn to ride on Strider bikes that stand just two feet tall and have no pedals. The program was initiated in 2022 by GoodSpeed Cycles in Homewood. A fundraiser helped raise the $5,000 seed money for the program with a matching one-to-one grant from GoodSpeed. The National Council of Jewish Women donated $1,000 for helmets.

The bikes remain at Willow and are used as part of the gym classes to help young riders learn to balance and ride a bike.

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