As easy as riding a bike: Millbridge students pick up new life skill

Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

CHINA GROVE — Riding a bike might be easy, but learning to ride a bike is a whole different story.

Millbridge Elementary PE teacher Jocelyn Shuping introduced the All Kids Bike program to Musketeer kindergartners earlier this year. After completing the eight-week program, about 100 students have a new life skill.

“The kids did a very good job,” Shuping said. “At the beginning of the program, I thought it was a really good and pleasant surprise to see how well they were doing.”

Ava Jones and Brayson Miller are two kindergarten students who completed the program.

“It was hard trying to learn to ride a bike,” Miller said. “You had to get used to it and try to not crash.”

Jones added that it was challenging at times, but her teacher helped encourage them along the way.

“It was very fun,” Jones said. “We like Ms. Shuping really much.”

Shuping explained that the program takes the training wheels out of the process and forces the students to explore and learn the concepts involved.

“The bicycles are balance bikes, so they don’t have training wheels or the pedals yet,” Shuping said. “Most were really successful at getting on the bikes, being able to sit on there and then being able to run. The next step was being able to pick your feet up off the floor and having them kind of ride around and do the laps without having their feet on the floor. They call it striding or gliding.”

After spring break, Shuping applied the pedals to the bicycles.

“Many (of the students) were able to start picking their feet up and putting their feet on the pedals,” Shuping said. “Also having to learn, they have the brakes built-in on the pedals too where they can push back and be able to stop with that.”

The program permits the students to go through the steps in a safe-controlled environment while mastering the concepts in a for-learning setting.

“One of the best parts of it was being able to provide an activity like learning to ride a bike in a public school setting where students may go home and not live on a safe enough road to be able to learn that, or maybe they don’t have a paved driveway,” Shuping said. “They may not even have a bicycle at home.”

Shuping remarked that the skills learned would also go a long way toward general development.

“Learning how to balance and other skills are developmental milestones that riding a bike provides,” Shuping said. “Being able to hopefully get them moving around more at home, ultimately, was the goal. It has been very rewarding to have this program, and they have done a really good job.”

Principal Lyndsey Pelusi’s child was one such success story.

“I was ready to throw the bicycle in a trash can because I was so tired of trying to teach my child how to do it until Ms. Shuping got this grant,” Pelusi said. “In three weeks, my kid was able to ride a bicycle thanks to her.”

The program offers a warranty for 7-10 years, so Shuping is optimistic that some students who will use them to learn have yet to be born.

“We have about 100 kindergartners now,” Shuping said. “We are looking forward to how many students it can impact over the years. It’s exciting to think about.”