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July 17, 2009

American Heart Association Grant


Kristina Wilburn

American Heart Association Funds CYCLE Kids

Cambridge Area Nonprofit Receives $20K to Empower Kids in High-risk Communities

Boston, Mass – The AHA has awarded seven grants totaling $125,000 to local community groups and organizations working on projects that would result in improvements in the cardiovascular health of our communities. CYCLE Kids Bike Skills and Nutrition Program received over $20,000 from the American Heart Association in support of their mission to fight childhood obesity. As a recipient of one of the seven grants awarded by the AHA, the CYCLE Kids program plans to introduce healthy lifestyles to over 200 public school children in Cambridge and Somerville by teaching nutrition and bicycle skills through a ten-week curriculum.

CYCLE Kids was created three years ago by Julie Idlet and has served approximately 1,500 children to date. The program is dedicated to addressing childhood obesity and physical inactivity primarily with inner-city children by creating an educational base that emphasizes the strong correlation between physical activity and healthy eating.

Once a week with the guidance of undergraduate and graduate students, children between the ages of 9 and 13 years old are given a combined nutritional and biking skills lesson during their after school program or PE class. Students are then encouraged to cycle together utilizing bikes donated especially for CYCLE Kids. In addition to encouraging physical activity and healthy eating, the program allows participants to experience a fun form of exercise that allows children to build self-esteem and confidence amongst their peers.

“The impact of the CYCLE Kids program on kids is invigorating,” said CYCLE Kids board chair Lauren Scopaz. “Having been a volunteer in the first pilot program in Somerville, MA, it is obvious what an ideal tool the bike is to teach kids. It makes them excited to come every session, and they forget they are getting exercise and learning about safety and healthy living, because it is so much fun. Kids love to ride bikes. It has been a privilege to work with CYCLE Kids in a number of ways, and I look forward to helping grow and develop the organization in the years to come.”

This funding will help to ensure meaningful activities continue and that new, creative projects are developed. The Greater Boston Division of the American Heart Association has recognized the need to support community-based activities that address our mission to fight heart disease and stroke. In addition, as the American Heart Association focuses its attention on systems change, it will be important to continue to balance our work with programs in the communities we serve.

About CYCLE Kids
CYCLE Kids is an independent, nonprofit organization established to introduce children to the joys of cycling, the benefits of healthy eating, and the world of physical science. The organization grew out of the founder's strong desire to address the health and emotional issues facing today’s under-active, often overweight children. To learn more visit

About the American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. These diseases, America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases claim nearly 870,000 lives a year.  In fiscal year 2006–07 the association invested more than $554 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit


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