ELKHART The bike rack outside Roosevelt Elementary School that is usually empty was full of bikes this morning.
Almost 30 Roosevelt Elementary School students and five teachers pedaled to class as a group Wednesday, May 8, for the school’s celebration of national “Bike to School Day.”
School nurse Patti Moore organized the event and said later that she was pleased so many kids at the school for kindergarten through second grade participated.
“I didn’t know if there would be two kids or 22 kids,” said Moore. “I think it went great.”
She said the event is intended to get kids moving while teaching them about bicycle safety at the same time.
“Next year, our school will be starting a program geared toward childhood obesity,” said Moore. “A light bulb went on recently when we had a very heavy child come to our school. We decided we had to do something.”
That program is just in the early planning stages and “nothing has been set in stone” according to Moore.
Elkhart Police Department Officer Mike Windmiller was on hand Wednesday to give the kids safety pointers and to escort them along their ride from the Roosevelt Center to the school a few blocks away.
Windmiller said it’s important for kids to pay attention to traffic when they are on bikes.
“We try to tell them, even though you’re not old enough to drive a car, the rules of the road still apply,” said Windmiller.
Moore said students at Roosevelt made posters about bike safety in the days before the event. A winning artist from each grade received a bike helmet as a prize.
“Also, all the riders were entered into a drawing to win a scooter,” said Moore.
Moore said she’s trying to change students’ perception of the school nurse as someone you see when you’re sick.
“I want to kind of flip-flop that and make it a more positive thing. Make ‘nurse’ mean health, not sickness,” said Moore.
She continued, “I hope that next year, especially with us being a K-6 school, that the children will be more likely to ride their bikes to school. We usually don’t have anybody that bike rack is usually empty.”
Next week, adults can join in the fun by participating in “Michiana Bike to Work” May 13-19. More information and a schedule of events can be found at www.michianabiketowork.org.
A map of bike routes in the city of Elkhart can be found at www.bikeelkhart.org.