The Read and Ride Program in Wilkesboro, NC

By Kristi Stephens Walker on June 16, 2013 at 5:00 am EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Wendy Jo O'Barr

When students at some Wilkes County elementary schools think of the three "Rs," they will likely be thinking of reading, riding and recumbent bicycles.

Four Wilkes County elementary schools "” Mulberry, North Wilkesboro, C.C. Wright, and Mt. Pleasant "” are participating in a Read and Ride program that allows students to have reading time while riding a recumbent stationary bike.

Improving Fluency and Fitness

The program builds on students' self-esteem in two ways: it promotes good health and physical activity, as well as encourages independent reading skills. Additionally, it serves as a positive way to help students burn off extra energy, according to Mulberry Elementary Principal Rebecca Mastin.

The other three participating schools call the program Code Read, says Wilkes County Schools Director of Development Dennis Huggins. The program, which is funded by NC Rural Center, has a two-fold focus: reading fluency and obesity reduction.

"Reading is fun. Riding is fun," Huggins says of Code Read. "You can do both at the same time."

Older Students Take Action

A group of 11th and 12th grade student leaders are the driving force behind Code Read. The students are part of a group focused on community development by targeting needs in their community, and working to make specific changes. According to Huggins, the youth leaders were certain the program was the one they wanted to support when they watched a teacher demonstrate how effectively an energetic student was redirected to reading, but still allowed to move.

"My ultimate goal would be to put these in the other nine schools that don't have them," Huggins says. "There could be some opportunities with the after-school programs," he states, noting that some teachers have begun using the bikes after school.

Lowe's Grant Funding

The stationary bicycles at Mulberry Elementary, which are designed to allow for reading while riding them, were acquired with a grant from the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation. Lowe's grants were given to 46 North Carolina schools for parent-initiated school-improvement projects benefiting K-12 public education.

Check out more activities for the kids in Wilkesboro, NC.

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