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Bike safety, nutrition make big hit at Kenner school

By Johnny Morgan, jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu
KENNER — Combining nutrition with bike safety may seem little odd, but some students in Kenner believe it’s the perfect combination.
Fourth and fifth grade students at Washington Elementary STEM School recently spent a week learning about bike safety and nutrition from LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Heather Egger and nutrition agent Karen Jones.
In addition to teaching the students about bicycle safety, the agents also taught nutrition lessons and provided a little exercise on the “smoothie bike,” allowing the students to use pedal power to make smoothies.
Jones made the activity more fun by bringing out the fruit and other ingredients to make smoothies and showing the students how to make a smoothie without using electricity.
“This is just a way to get the students fired up and interested in doing an activity that teaches them about eating healthy,” Jones said.
The smoothie bike is configured to turn the blades in a blender that’s attached to the bike when it’s peddled.
The event was conducted at the school in cooperation with the AgCenter and Bike Easy NOLA, a local bicycle advocacy group.
The lesson for the students is that they can conserve energy, get a little exercise and have a great tasting smoothie in the process, Jones said.
“This has been a weeklong activity, where we have been teaching the students how to safely ride their bicycles after learning the proper hand signals and other techniques,” Egger said.
Even with chilly temperatures, the students didn’t seem to mind because they were given an opportunity to do something different and to learn something new, Egger said.
Karen Morgan, physical education teacher at the school, said the purpose of Bike Easy Community Education and Safety programming is to give people of all ages and abilities the skills and confidence to ride their bikes safely.
“This benefits the students at Washington Elementary STEM because many of our students walk to and from school and ride bikes in the neighborhood,” she said.
Another benefit of the program is that it teaches students to follow directions, obey laws and rules and work cooperatively with others, she said.
“Many students shared that they were not aware of the rules about going in a certain direction when bike riding,” Morgan said. “They were very excited and eager to learn, and eight students learned how to ride a bike during the class.”
She said the third graders have expressed interest in being part of the program next year.
The students also learned how to maintain their bikes, which included airing up the tires, checking the brakes and changing inner tubes.“We wanted to teach them the rules of the road, how to signal when riding in the street and how to avoid hazards in the road,” Egger said.
Jones said the event is promoting healthy communities, and they are getting a chance to learn about bike safety as well.
Lauren Nagel, bike educator for Bike Easy NOLA, said the organization is an advocacy group that promotes bike lanes and other safe biking activities.
Even though some of the students didn’t know how to ride in the beginning, all were able to ride after the week of safety training.

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