Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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November 17, 2012

Northridge kids want to stay fit by riding bicycles

MIDDLEBURY — The gymnasium and physical education program at Northridge High School is already pretty impressive.

The gymnasium, or field house, is practically brand new, opening along with the new high school in 2009. Its state of the art equipment boasts one the only high ropes courses in northern Indiana.

Physical Education Department Chairman Clint Borntrager wants to stay ahead of the game and fulfill the department’s mission to instill in its students the goal of fitness for life. If the department wins a $25,000 Henkel Helps Get Kids Fit grant, Northridge could soon be offering a Pumpkinvine Trail physical education class, complete with bicycles, helmets and trainers (for indoor use).

“The idea came up in a meeting when we were discussing how to use a grant like this,” Borntrager said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought of how different it was and the many ways we could utilize that money.”

With block scheduling giving 90 minutes of class time, Borntrager said a class could easily don helmets, get on bikes and make the short trip from the school to the Pumpkinvine Trail. The trail offers 26 miles of physical fitness for all levels of fitness, self-esteem building and an opportunity for team work — exactly what the grant is targeting.

“Biking is non-competitive, so it really does foster self-esteem as well as being a great way to stay fit,” Borntrager said.

And paired with geocaching, bicycling can quickly promote teamwork.

“This real-world, outdoor, treasure-hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices has become very popular in our area, with many geocaches hidden in our vicinity and along the newly finished trail,” Middlebury Community Schools Director of Personal Delores Merrick said. “With the availability of bicycles, entire classrooms could navigate for miles and seek out these geocaches.”

The idea, along with Merrick’s grant-writing skills, singled out Northridge High School as one of the final five schools across the nation chosen to compete for the grant money.

Next, the department uploaded a one-minute video to HenkelHelps.com displaying the benefits of biking for the students. Students, parents, friends, family and community members can visit the website, view the video and vote each day. Voting has already begun and will end Dec. 7. Viewers with multiple emails can vote more than once each day.

“The funding would provide the opportunity for physical activity outside of traditional physical education classrooms in non-traditional activities — inspiring active learning and fostering activities that transcend the classroom,” Merrick said.

With the $25,000, the school staff would be able to purchase 35 to 40 bikes, helmets, trainers and a storage facility.

Earlier on in the contest process, Borntrager contacted Pumpkinvine Cyclery in Middlebury to get a quote for the total number of bikes, helmets and trainers.

“I thought it would be a good idea to go with a local company. The shop is only a stone’s throw away from the trail north of Middlebury,” Borntrager said. “And the owner, Spencer Short is a Northridge grad. They supplied us with the bikes and helmets that you see in the video.”

Physical Education Teacher Julianne Bucher is exciting about the possibility of bringing bicycles to the high school students.

“We really try to stress physical education for life,” Bucher said. “Bicycles, even for those with disabilities, put everyone on a level playing field. It can be fun for everyone in the family and it’s an activity that can last a lifetime.”

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