A physical education teacher raises $5,000 to buy bikes and helmets for a proposed bicycling class for kindergarten and first graders at South Buffalo Elementary School in the Freeport Area School District.

The money will be used to pay for a fleet of 24 Strider balance bikes, helmets, pedal conversion kits, a Strider 20 bike for teaching and the teacher program.

Earlier, physical education teacher John Lowry took part in an informal survey of his kindergarten and first grade students at South Buffalo Elementary School. He found that the majority of students either didn’t know how to balance on a bike or had never ridden a bike.

He saw the need to include a national cycling program in his curriculum.

“For physical education, we focus on lifelong activities and not just traditional team sports,” Lowry said.

Launched in March 2018, the All Kids Bike program is used in more than 550 schools in 50 states, reaching 77,000 students in 2021 and teaching 380,000 students to ride, said Lauren Tadlock, the program’s project manager.

The group responded to a need to get more children to ride bikes. According to the organization Safe Routes to School, the number of children cycling for recreational purposes has dropped by 35% over the past decade.

Conversely, children spend an average of more than seven hours a day in front of a screen, according to the CDC, Tadlock said.

The All Kids Bike program provides the bikes with a five-year service contract. Students cannot take or own the bikes. Lowry expects the bikes to see little use and last at least as long as the service contract.

He hopes to set up South Buffalo Elementary School’s bike class for physical education classes next year.

But first, he must raise the money. Lowry recently launched an online campaign, through the All Kids Bike program, and raised around $800 in the first week of May. He said he also plans to approach local businesses.

To donate, visit the All Kids Bike Program for South Buffalo Elementary at allkidsbike.org/give.

Mary Ann Thomas is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .