PLAINFIELD, IN. (September 24, 2019) – Thanks to the vision of Physical Education teacher Eli Wheeler, students at Plainfield’s Central Elementary School, in partnership with local business Gear Up Cyclery, are taking part in an after-school program called TRAILBLAZERS IN MOTION. The cycling program was created to introduce and develop bike safety and leadership skills, with students meeting every Wednesday with Wheeler and other Central teachers, Gear Up Cyclery staff, and Sergeant Todd Knowles of the Plainfield Police Department.
After two weeks of bicycle safety and basic skill building, students will make their first eight-mile ride during tomorrow’s session. The ride will start in the school’s parking lot and proceed to the town’s trail system for the majority of the ride.
“We think it’s great that Sgt. Knowles has a desire to share his love and knowledge of bicycle safety with students in Plainfield,” said Deputy Police Chief Joe Aldridge. “He is a great role model for our children.”
Central Elementary Principal, Julie Thacker, wrote a grant to Duke Energy that ultimately provided for the purchase of five bicycles and safety equipment, after Gear Up Cyclery’s owner, Dennis Gibbs, made an initial donation of 19 bikes. In the coming year, Thacker plans to write another grant for two accessible bikes, further expanding the reach of the program.
“Cycling is a lifelong skill that teaches discipline and goal-setting while helping develop confidence,” Thacker explained. “We want to empower and engage children with healthy physical activity, while providing them with positive perspectives to help manage the challenges they face every day. And this is one way to accomplish that, even though from students’ perspective, it just looks like fun!”
The program began Wednesday, September 11th and participants meet every Wednesday through October 9th. The group typically departs on their ride by 4:15.
Based on the number of available bikes and safety gear, the program is limited to the first 25 students in grades 4 and 5 who signed up. The goal is to continue expanding the program as long as grant funds are available to purchase additional equipment.
On October 5, Trailblazers in Motion will culminate with a school-wide ride that will include all Central students, and their families.