It’s all about pedal power.
Students at Windber Area High School are taking their gym class outdoors and mountain biking, which not only allows them to leave the building for a while but also reap the benefits of physical activity.
The class has been offered in the high school as part of the physical education curriculum for years, but within the past two years became an elective with students choosing to include it in their schedule.
“We were looking at adding activities that kids could carry with them to adulthood and would benefit their overall health,” said Glenn Gaye, Windber’s director of education. “They enjoy it because they want to be there and don’t even see it as exercise.”
The school has 50 mountain bikes of various sizes, and each student is required to wear a helmet on rides.
The bikes are serviced periodically to ensure they are functioning properly.
The rides, which are led by teacher Norman Williams, vary, but for the most part stay on district property and secondary roads around the school for safety reasons.
“It’s a popular elective and the interest is there,” Gaye said. “Each class that goes out has between 24 to 26 kids.”
Kaitlyn Weaver, 14, said she looks forward to the daily bike ride.
“I feel like I’m in better physical condition and we’re not even halfway through the year,” the freshman said.
She even went as far as to say it’s her favorite class of the day.
“It’s just really fun and something different, and you get to be outside more,” Kaitlyn said.
Gaye said there is discussion about expanding the class and offering it to middle-school pupils.
“We want our kids to be active so they are healthy, so we’re not only educating the mind but also strengthening the body,” he said.
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