Every week for the past seven weeks, WABA has been working with DC elementary schools to bring students bike education programs. Our curriculum covers spatial awareness, safe riding skills, helmet fit, road rules, and learn to ride tactics for students new to biking without training wheels.
We spent last week at Randle Highlands Elementary School, working with Physical Education teacher Darlene Ferguson to serve K-4th grade students.
On Thursday we touched base with Ms. Ferguson about her takeaways from the program — and goals for future bike programming.
WABA: What did you think of this week’s bike curriculum?
Darlene Ferguson: I thought it was wonderful. I thought that the students really needed it, and even though they think they can do all things, it was very useful for them.
The curriculum was simple, and it was easy enough for them to follow things, so it gave them different rules of the road, things that they wouldn’t necessarily think about otherwise. I think it helped them to become more aware of how to stay safe while they’re riding a bike. This is something that they could take with them when they go home … they will want to show off to their parents that they learned these new techniques.
WABA: Are your students riding bikes to school?
Ms. Ferguson: I don’t think they are riding to school as much. I think they probably ride in their neighborhoods, those who do have bikes. The WABA program has me thinking … that maybe we could raise money to get bikes for the school or just have more programs to encourage this kind of exercise activity.
WABA: How is this neighborhood for riding in?
Ms. Ferguson: Busy. You know we’re on a main artery; Pennsylvania Avenue is a busy street. The streets are busy, but they do have crossing guards. So we’d just have to teach the kids how to ride safely and use the bikes the right way and the brakes and all so that they wouldn’t run into the street by accident. It’s a little hilly over here also … riding from home to school they would really need a lot of parental guidance.
WABA: What’s your dream bike program for Randle Highlands?
Ms. Ferguson: Maybe like a bike club; maybe we could do that for extra exercise. Maybe we could even try to collaborate with other teachers about distance and we could teach across subjects. Even though it is physical education because we are moving, the students also could calculate the distance from one place to another [and use math], or we could do something in social studies where they could learn about the city and the maps.
I think [the program] would be something where you can incorporate material across the board. It would be something extra to help bridge all the other lessons that they can learn, whether it’s social studies, whether it’s math, whether it’s P.E. … it would be a great cross-curricular activity and something which which parents can start engaging with their kids.
WABA: How could you see parents and school administrators engaging in biking programs in the future?
Ms. Ferguson: A [family] activity on the weekend, or after school or having parents help their kids ride their bikes to school would be great.
And maybe even talking to the administration about investing in more infrastructure – like we don’t even have a bike rack. So if [the students] did ride their bikes to school they don’t have a place to put them, either. … and just having our own fleet of bikes, that would help. We have enough space, we just don’t have the bikes.
School name: Randle Highlands Elementary School
Location: Ward 7
Number of students who participated in WABA’s bike program: 148