Martin Middle School After-School Bike Program (FALL)
Start Date: 2011-10-03
End Date: 2011-12-09
One of the principle outreach programs undertaken by The Ghisallo Foundation is the After School Bike Program at middle schools within the Austin Independent School District (AISD). The program aims to encourage middle school students to ride bicycles more often by developing the skills and confidence to ride safely in multiple environments. A comprehensive course outline provides the opportunity for students to learn the basic components and workings of a bicycle, general body and verbal signals to use while riding, and rudimentary bicycle maintenance skills useful for riders of all levels. The program offers a unique opportunity for students to participate in an after school activity that is fun, informative, and exposes the students to new experiences while riding bicycles around Austin.
The Fall 2011 school semester saw the Foundation return to Martin Middle School for the afterschool program in association with AISD and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program as administered by the United States Department of Education. Additional instructors made it possible to expand the program in terms of duration and frequency at Martin Middle School, providing enhanced opportunities for students to participate.
The core details of the program are to identify the bicycle skill levels of the students participating in the bike club, to demonstrate basic bicycle maintenance skills to ensure students ride a safe bike, to teach safe verbal and body signals, to encourage safe riding habits, and to provide fun and new experiences for the students thereby demonstrating the comaraderie possible when riding.
The developed lesson plan of the program is designed specifically for the format, time restraints, and common riding and mechanical skill levels presented during the spring semester. It references key sections of The Safe Routes to School Safe Cyclist Curriculum created by Bike Texas and utilizes the curriculum as reference material for the instructors. The eight-week program provides students the opportunity to learn basic bicycle maintenance skills, identify the parts of a bicycle and understand how each part functions, how to properly wear a helmet, gain valuable on-trail and on-road signals to communicate with pedestrians, other cyclists, and motor vehicle drivers.
There were many returning students to the bike club at Martin Middle School, which provided the opportunity – after some review – to utilize more advanced students to help teach some basic skills to new group members. Additionally, with the Fall semester starting the second school year for the bike club program there was notably more interest from the students which resulted in larger classes. Class size varied from 6-12 students dependent on weather, period during the semester (availability of organized sports programs), and interest in competing after-school programs.
As the Fall 2011 semester progressed and the skill level of the students increased, the club was able to embark on longer rides further away from the school. Capitalizing on the interest around the City of Austin with the Cows on Parade fundraiser, the group routinely ventured around the Lady Bird Lake trail area in search of artist cows to “discover.” Below are some of the pictures taken of the group while en route to and upon discovery of new cows.