DEDHAM – Students at Dedham School are along for the ride of a new bike program brought to their town.
The school was the only one in Maine to receive the grant for the 2019-2020 Specialized Foundation Riding for Focus.
“I’m ecstatic about the fact that we have this,” said Tim Pearson, Dedham School’s physical education teacher.
He said the program looks at how cycling can positively affect student learning, health, and wellbeing.
“The purpose of it is to get kids on bikes, but specifically to help kids that may have focus issues such as ADHD,” said Pearson. “To help them be able to help them focus better in classrooms.”
He said Dedham School received 27 mountain bikes with helmets, a school curriculum, and training for teachers.
Pearson said studies show one in nine kids struggle with ADHD. He said those numbers are accurate at Dedham School.
“Studies have shown that when kids are physically active during the day, it helps them focus when they get back into the school work,” said Pearson.
“Longterm, physical activity actually builds brain cells and builds connections so that kids are able to make decisions to be able to focus better and do better academically in classes.”
One eighth-grader said, “It’s an awesome break and not having to do work of course and just having fun.”
Over the past few weeks, the students have learned the basics and safety of riding a bike and on Tuesday it was time to put their skills to the test.
“I think we have a group of kids that like biking and they’re excited about it,” said Pearson. “We have a group of kids that they don’t know yet that they’re going to love biking.”
“It’s nice to get out for an hour and just bike around,” said Gilman Taylor, an eighth grader.
Pearson said he hopes this will be a sustainable program for all grades for many years.
“My hope, and I’m really sure of it, is that three weeks from now every single kid is going to have the biggest smile on their face they’ve ever had at school when they’re riding their bikes around during the school day,’ said Pearson.