Students at Plainfield’s Central Elementary School have teamed up with local business, Gear Up Cyclery, for an after-school program called Trailblazers in Motion. It’s the brainchild of physical education teacher Eli Wheeler.
The cycling program that meets every Wednesday teaches bike safety and leadership skills.
After two weeks of safety classes, students made their first eight-mile ride on Sept. 25 from the school parking lot to the town’s trail system.
Plainfield Police Department Sgt. Todd Knowles, a school resource officer and avid cyclist helped secure the route for the students.
“We think it’s great that Sgt. Knowles has a desire to share his love and knowledge of bicycle safety with students in Plainfield,” Deputy Police Chief Joe Aldridge said.
Central Elementary Principal Julie Thacker wrote a grant to Duke Energy that provided five bicycles and safety equipment for the program. Gear Up Cyclery’s owner, Dennis Gibbs, made an initial donation of 19 bikes. In the coming year, Thacker plans to write another grant for two more bikes.
“Cycling is a lifelong skill that teaches discipline and goal-setting while helping develop confidence,” Julie Thacker, Plainfield Central Elementary principal, said. “We want to empower and engage children with healthy physical activity while providing them with positive perspectives to help manage the challenges they face every day. And this is one way to accomplish that, even though from students’ perspective, it just looks like fun!”
The program began Sept. 11 and participants meet every Wednesday through Oct. 9. The group typically departs on their ride by 4:15 p.m.
Based on the number of available bikes and safety gear, the program is limited to the first 25 students in grades 4 and 5 who signed up. The goal is to continue expanding the program as long as grant funds are available for equipment.
On Oct. 5, Trailblazers in Motion will gather for a school-wide ride that will include all Central students, and their families.