Cooper Elementary students had a chance to show off their cycling skills Oct. 31 when Trailblazers came to the school to do a photo shoot with the school's bike program.
Trailblazers, a nonprofit formed in 2021 through the merger of NWA Trailblazers and Bike NWA, states that its mission is "to lead the development of an innovative regional recreation and transportation movement that places trails, cycling and active transportation infrastructure at the core of an inclusive, vibrant and healthy culture."
Members of Trailblazers were at the school to shoot photos for an upcoming grant program that schools and community organizations across the state will be able to apply for. The program is called Trailblazers Bike Club, and it is designed to give students in second through fifth grades more confidence on bikes by teaching games and activities, Program Manager Gabriela Ruiz said. The photos taken at Cooper Elementary will be used primarily as visuals for the activities and games in the Trailblazers Bike Club Toolkit, which is part of the curriculum support included in the program.
"Four full programs will be granted during this current application cycle for Spring 2023 implementation. Each program will include 10 student bikes, two adult bikes, 12 helmets, curriculum, program supplies, training for club leaders and ongoing support from Trailblazers. All interested schools and community organizations in the state of Arkansas are encouraged to apply," Ruiz said.
Applications will be accepted until Dec. 17.
After Cooper Elementary Bike Club Coordinator Donna Lewis did a helmet check, Anya Bruhin of Trailblazers took the students through some exercises for the photographer to document.
Lewis said, "I'm honored that they recognized our bike program here at Cooper. Our bike program is very unique because we get to see every student every day. We're able to do so much more when we do that."
She said the school starts out teaching the students as kindergarteners on Strider bikes, and, "by the time they're in fourth grade they're jumping on ramps, riding skinnies and learning lots of bike control."
She added when programs only do bicycling once a week, that allows fear to creep in. With Cooper's program being able to see the students every day, it prevents the fear, she said.
Ruiz said Trailblazers chose Cooper Elementary because Lewis "has been a great supporter of kids on bikes and our bike club program since 2019."
For more information on Trailblazers go to https://wearetrailblazers.org/about/our-story