June 25, 2018
Local educators learn to teach safe biking and walking to kids of all abilities
First-of-its-kind safety training meets the needs of students with disabilities
Educators in the Mankato area will soon bring new lesson plans focused on safe walking and bicycling for students of all abilities into their classrooms with the help of an expanded Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum.
With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with partners including the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) and Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling to provide equitable pedestrian and bicycle safety education for all students, the first such curriculum available in the nation.
“Minnesota is taking another important step to expand access to physical activity opportunities for students of all abilities with this expanded curriculum,” said Kristine Igo, director of the MDH Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives.
Twenty-five educators will participate in curriculum training with BikeMN on June 28 at Immanuel Lutheran School in Mankato. Numerous organizations worked together to develop an adaptive toolkit for the Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum. Collaborating organizations include MDH, Olmsted County Public Health, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Courage Kenny Institute, Minneapolis Public Schools, BikeMN, Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling and Blue Earth County Public Health and schools. Project collaborators are piloting the trainings and will use feedback from teachers to refine the curriculum and training over the next three years.
About Walk! Bike! Fun!
Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) communities work to bring Walk! Bike! Fun! into local schools by applying for teacher trainings, lending bike fleets and helmets and supporting local training opportunities. The objective is to continue to build local momentum for biking and walking education. Youth use the streets for bicycling every day, yet roads can be hazardous and children are not formally educated to maneuver skillfully on the streets. With lessons from this curriculum, local volunteers learn what they need to help teachers educate students about traffic rules and regulations, potential hazards and skills needed to walk and bike safely.
Studies show that children who walk and bicycle to school are more physically active, have improved mental health and have lower odds of being overweight or obese than students who are driven or bused to school. Strong evidence also connects physical activity to improvements in school attendance rates, classroom behavior and student academic performance – including grades and standardized test scores.
The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) is working to make Minnesota a place where bicycling is easy, safe and fun for everyone. The mission of BikeMN is to unite and strengthen bicycle advocacy, provide education and work for a more bicycle-friendly Minnesota. Visit BikeMN for more information.