A Community-Based After-School Program to Promote Bicycling Skills and Knowledge: Kids Can Bike!
Keywords:Children, physical activity, youth cycling, bicycle sharing, programming
Physical inactivity is a major public health concern and is believed to contribute to the high prevalence of childhood obesity in U.S. youth. To address this problem, Knoxville, Tennessee's Childhood Obesity Coalition launched the Kids Can Bike! program in the spring of 2012. The 7-week bicycling program is designed to increase physical activity, teach safe cycling skills, and explore local parks and greenways while having fun. The program targets children in 3rd-5th grades who are already enrolled in an after-school or summer program. Once a week, the children are transported to a location where they can safely ride. The City of Knoxville Department of Parks and Recreation transports the bicycles to the corresponding location in a 24-foot enclosed trailer. Additionally, the Department of Parks and Recreation provides staffing while the University of Tennessee provides student volunteer assistants. The instructors are trained to deliver a safe cycling curriculum that includes both physical activity and education components. The children are surveyed at the beginning and end of the program to determine the impact of the bicycle program on changes in bicycle knowledge, and to evaluate their attitudes towards the Kids Can Bike! program as a whole. Preliminary results from year 1 showed a significant increase in the percentage of correct bicycle knowledge questions. Furthermore, the children indicated high levels of satisfaction with the program. Bicycle education programs can be successfully integrated into existing afterschool and summer programs and may help children acquire the skills and knowledge to become lifelong bicyclists.
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