“In addition to 36 new schools across the nation, we are delighted to have Forest Ridge Academy join The Specialized Foundation family,” said Ted Theocheung CEO, The Specialized Foundation. “With this years’ additional schools, our foundation will reach over 20,000 students, across 77 schools, in 30 states. We look forward to working closely with Forest Ridge Academy to improve their students’ lives through cycling.”
As a recipient of this year’s grant, Forest Ridge Academy will gain access to the Riding for Focus program curriculum, a fleet of bikes, a starter maintenance kit, and helmets to activate the program. Additionally, a select program champion will attend an in-person training hosted by The Specialized Foundation to ensure success as the program is integrated into classrooms this Fall.
Cindy Arnold, principal at Forest Ridge Academy, said, “I am a firm believer that healthy minds and healthy bodies go hand in hand. When this grant became available, I was so excited at the thought of implementing a cycling program into our physical education curriculum. I am an avid bike rider myself, so I am thrilled that I now get to share that enthusiasm with the students at Forest Ridge Academy.” Sean Willis, physical education teacher at Forest Ridge Academy, stated, “One of the key elements of the physical education program at Forest Ridge Academy is to set up our students for lifetime fitness. This program will help enhance our students’ pursuit of achieving fitness and loving fitness.”
Additionally, Forest Ridge Academy will be partnering with local bike shop A1 Cycle Center in Merrillville, Indiana, to work together to help build and maintain the school bike fleet.
“We are lucky enough to be paired with my husband’s local bike shop,” said Meredith Fennema, Director of Technology at Forest Ridge Academy. “We appreciate all of the support we have received from A1 Cycle Center. They are donating their time and expertise to build and maintain the fleet of bikes we are going to be getting. They have also offered to assist in implementing this program at our school.”
Riding for Focus is designed to introduce middle school students to cycling’s positive effects on academic performance, health, and social success. The curriculum was developed based on studies conducted by a third-party research organization that investigated the impact of cycling on middle school students. Students that follow the curriculum have seen improvements in their standardized test scores, and the increased physical activity helps to establish life-long habits for exercise, fitness, and wellness. The program has been found to be an inclusive experience for all students, across all ethnographic, demographic, and geographic factors, and is flexible enough to deploy in all types of schools with class sizes from ten to fifty.