Canadian Cyclist


June 13/02 10:42 am - Physical Education: Sprockids Style

Posted by Editoress on 06/13/02

Physical Education "Sprockids Style"
by Doug Detwiller, "Sprockids Coastriders"

A large part of being a kid is supposed to be about having fun and being active. However for far too many young people this life style just isn't a reality. This could be for many reasons, but having been a teacher for over 23 years I have definitely seen a change in what young people perceive as "socially acceptable" for someone entering their teenage years. As educators and parents there is a real need to teach our young people how to be physically active, how to forget about whether they are wearing the latest correctly labeled pair of jeans.

I truly believe that the next big trend in education will be teaching students to be active in sports and activities that they can be involved with throughout their lives. What happened on Friday June 7th at Davis Bay Elementary reflected this future of physical education in our schools. It may not have been the adrenaline downhill crowd that we discovered at Whistler last weekend, but these young riders can hold their own against any one under four feet. So don't be surprised if someday you see them standing on the podium at a future World Cup.

Rob Paish is the principal of Davis Bay Elementary, a rural school of 185 students, K to 7 located on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Rob reflects the new wave of administrators who understand that education is much more than just what happens within the four walls of a classroom. As educators our role is to provide our students with every opportunity to grow as individuals, and by doing this we allow them to discover the talents, energy, and dreams that lie within them. This is the second year that Rob had asked me to organize a "Bike Day" for his school. The concept was to involve every student in the school, and wheel them through a series of stations, to take them on an extended ride, and hopefully leave them with a love of cycling. I had enlisted our three local bike shops, Laurie Short, Sprockids teacher/instructor extraordinaire, Kathryn Travers the recreational director of our Regional District, and several of our teenage riders to help run the day. Together we made up a very diverse team of individuals with different and unique riding skills, ages, and experience. Over the course of the day we would put all of these skills to work.

We had set up the school's level playing field with 8 stations. Each guided session was 40 minutes with one primary class and one intermediate. We then divided each class again into two more groups. This gave us four groups with 10 to 15 students per group, each with two instructors. Laurie and I each worked with the younger students while the younger adults and teenage riders worked with the intermediate students.

If you have never worked with 5 to 7 year old children do yourself a favor, get down on your knees and look at the world from their level. These young people have such a wide eyed, positive way of looking at the world. You cannot help but be caught up in their laughter and enthusiasm. Every experience is an exciting new adventure of discovery. The learning curve for this age age is extraordinary, and after one session these two wheeled pilots had learned something about keeping their bikes running, riding safety and were navigating their way through a variety of skill oriented activities. The activities cumulated in a group ride and a game of 3survivor.2

The younger instructors and our teenage riders worked with the intermediate students who's ages ranged from 10 to 14 years of age. When we started the day very few of the grade 6/7 students showed much interest in riding a bike.. They were far too 3cool2 to lower themselves to do what the little kids were doing. However, by the end of the day they were totally into it and were riding the stunts, teeter tooters, going on the long trail ride, and were involved in a game of 3Bike Survivor.2 By the end of the day many of them wanted to know about joining the Sprockids 3Coastriders2 Club.

One of the major factors in the success of the day was having bikes and helmets for them to ride. But what really made it all happen was having high school students helping out. They made it 3cool2 and totally acceptable to to get on a bike and once again enjoy the thrills, freedom, and pure joy of letting go and allowing yourself to have fun! When all was said and done 165 out of 185 students, representing 89% of the student population, were riding bikes!

Sprockids has developed a variety of programs that can be easily implemented into both the elementary and high school curriculums. Check out our web site at to learn more about the type of activities that we are involved in, and how to join the IMBA Sprockids Program.
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Principal Rob Paish's Comments:

Dear Mr. Detwiller,

I just have to thank Sprockids, again for that awesome bike day you and your colleagues provided us. It ended up being more successful than we could have ever imagined. Even our Grade 6/7 class, which indicated non-interest at the best the day before, were fully involved and loving it by the end of the day. In fact, they were the first ones out of the school and on bikes when it came time for our afternoon ride. I think that the high school riders you brought along helped provide the "coolness" variable that was necessary for their participation.

An impact was also obviously made on our younger students. When it came time for the afternoon ride, more than half of our Grade twos wanted to join in. There was no way that we could say no and dampen that enthusiasm. I felt grateful that I had the opportunity to take this eager group. They captured the essence of the biking spirit. I witnessed them encouraging each other, falling down and eagerly getting back up, and wanting to go faster and further. As far as they were concerned,they were the "World Cup". The only thing that stopped us was afternoon dismissal time.

I must also share another story with you. One of our "tougher" Grade Four students lent his biking gloves to a younger student who wasn't so confident about riding. It wasn't like they were friends or anything either. When the end of the day arrived and the younger student arrived back at school last and hurting, the grade Four student offered sincere words of encouragement and support to him. It was a side of that student that we rarely get to witness.

I must also let you know that a number of our staff members commented to me how excited and happy their students were when they got back to class for dismissal time. There were stories of being as fast as the older students, near misses, huge hills, breakneck speeds, flying mud, jumps, passing and just plain exhilaration. Everyone is already talking about next year.

I also liked the way that you were able to bring our community together. It was great to see three competing bike shops (working as a team side-by-side), the Recreation dept, high school students, other teachers, the RCMP and parents all working together to provide our students this experience.

An absolutely outstanding day!! Any chance we can book you for next year already? Thanks!!!!


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