Kelly GROW pilot program helps kids put the pieces together

Kelly GROWThis spring we closed the incredible final season of the Kelly GROW pilot program. For the past two years we have worked with Kelly Elementary Community SUN School, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), Growing Gardens, and the Community Health Partnership to offer a multifaceted after-school “HEAL” curriculum: Health Eating, Active Living.

Students in grades 3 through 6 spent eight weeks working with the BTA on the “Neighborhood Navigators” pedestrian curriculum. They then participated in another eight weeks of Bike Club and gardening, lead by the Community Cycling Center and Growing Gardens, respectively.

For this spring’s final session, we placed a particular emphasis on “integration moments” where lessons about gardening, walking and biking overlapped. For example, using lessons from the Neighborhood Navigators curriculum, the kids mapped out routes to ride their bikes to nearby community gardens.

Kelly GROWOver the past two years, over 50 kids have learned:

  • basic bike safety and maintenance,
  • how to navigate their neighborhood safely on foot, and
  • lessons about gardening and community health.

Participants fixed flat tires, mapped bike routes, learned traffic and pedestrian rules, and used the school’s garden to plant and harvest their own vegetables. Parents of the students were pleased with the results of the program. “This program has a profound impact on these kids you can’t even put words to” one parent stated. Another parent noticed more confident behavior in her son, noting that she “can trust that he can go out in traffic and stay calm.”

As the final semester came to a close, we offered four Kelly GROW parents the chance to participate in a Create a Commuter workshop. In addition to fully-equipped commuter bikes, we provided the parents with trailers to facilitate family cycling.

At the start of the workshop, Hermelinda, a Kelly GROW mother, shared that she wanted a bicycle so that she “could ride along with my children.” Two of her five children have completed the program and Hermelinda looks forward to using her new bicycle and trailer to ride with them in the park and to get around their neighborhood.

Kelly GROWWe look forward to staying in touch with Hermelinda and the other Kelly GROW family participants over the next six months to learn more about their challenges and successes with family bicycling. Their input will inform how we encourage bicycle use and support families new to using bicycles for family transportation.

Community Health Partnership is taking the lead to evaluate the Kelly GROW program, which will include results from parent and program partner focus groups. In 2010, the results of the program will be shared with educators and policy makers interested in seeing how healthy eating and active living can impact kids’ lives.

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