January 8, 2016
CYCLE Kids is in Mississippi
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ridgeland’s Highland Elementary Launched a CYCLE Kids Program With Grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation
Ridgeland, Miss. (January 7, 2016) — To kick off the new year, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Highland Elementary School in Ridgeland will be learning about bike safety, nutrition and overall wellness thanks to a grant totaling $27,300 from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, as well as support from community partners.
Starting in January, Highland will be the first and only school in Mississippi to launch CYCLE Kids, an eight-week program for fourth- and fifth-grade students, which uses the power of riding a bicycle to teach children the importance of physical activity and healthy habits, while helping build cardiovascular fitness and core strength. The curriculum includes bike skills and safety lessons, jump rope activities and nutrition lessons, which will be taught during physical education classes.
Lauren Hall, a professional cyclist and CYCLE Kids ambassador, approached Jayce Powell of Indian Cycle Fitness & Outdoor about the program. Powell then brought the idea to Mayor Gene McGee, an avid cyclist, who encouraged Highland to seek funding through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
“CYCLE Kids will most directly benefit the health and wellness of Ridgeland’s fourth- and fifth-grade students, and we’re excited about this wonderful opportunity for Highland Elementary,” said McGee. “We anticipate a very positive ripple effect in the community, extending the reach of CYCLE Kids, as family members and friends learn about the program and improved fitness of the participating students. CYCLE Kids is a program the City of Ridgeland is proud to support as it furthers our goal of Ridgeland being at the epicenter of fitness in the metro area.”
Having been named the Healthiest Hometown in 2013 by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the City of Ridgeland knows firsthand the advantages of working with the Foundation to improve opportunities for health and wellness in Ridgeland.
“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is committed to supporting our schools, communities, and colleges and universities in their efforts to create healthy places to live, work and learn,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We are proud to continue our support of Ridgeland and its efforts to create a healthy community.”
In addition to teaching students how to safely ride a bike, CYCLE Kids incorporates short bouts of physical activity into the classroom through the use of jump ropes. These daily jump rope sessions are designed to help improve student concentration and behavior, which has a positive effect on a teacher’s ability to teach and a child’s ability to learn.
The strength of the program comes from the fact that every child can participate. While some physical activities – such as running, ball sports and strength-building activities – might be difficult for a child who is overweight or severely out of shape, riding a bike or jumping rope is not limiting.
All children can participate equally, regardless of their physical or mental ability. “We’re looking forward to seeing the impact CYCLE Kids will have on instilling healthy habits in our students,” said Highland Elementary principal Paula Tharp.
“We’re so thankful to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for funding CYCLE Kids and for the ongoing support of our community partners, such as the City of Ridgeland, the Ridgeland police and fire departments, Indian Cycle, Barnett’s Body Shop and Automotive Color.” Support from community partners has been instrumental in making CYCLE Kids a reality. Ridgeland police officers and firefighters are assisting Highland’s physical education teacher, Jeff Cole, in instructing students on bicycle safety. Indian Cycle ordered and assembled the bicycles for the program. And Barnett’s Body Shop donated the labor while Automotive Color provided paint and materials for painting the bikes the Foundation’s signature blue color.
“Bringing CYCLE Kids to Highland Elementary has definitely been a community effort,” said Tharp. “As we enter into the new year, I know many families will have resolutions to live healthier lives. Our hope is that CYCLE Kids will encourage our entire community to be successful in their efforts.”
CYCLE Kids is a national program taught in 40 schools, in eight states, reaching more than 3,000 children a year. Over the past 11 years, 13,000 students have benefited from the CYCLE Kids program, and every program implemented in schools during that time is still active.
About Highland Elementary School: Highland Elementary is the third- through fifth-grade school serving the Ridgeland attendance zone of the Madison County School District. The school is located at 330 Brame Road (off Highland Colony Parkway). For more information, please call 601-853-8103 or visit madison-schools.com/hes.
About Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation: The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is working to build a healthy Mississippi. Through targeted funding and grant making throughout the state, the Foundation focuses on health and wellness initiatives to support Mississippi schools, communities, colleges and universities. For more information, visit healthiermississippi.org.
About CYCLE Kids: CYCLE Kids is an independent, nonprofit organization founded on the idea that good health is holistic: Nutrition, physical activity, intellectual stimulation and emotional wellbeing are all related facets of overall wellness. The organization continuously works to strengthen children’s emotional and physical health through a comprehensive bicycling and nutrition program, setting them on a path to a healthier future. CYCLE Kids is currently taught in 40 schools, in eight states, reaching more than 3,000 children a year. Over the past 11 years, 13,000 students have benefited from the CYCLE Kids program, and every program implemented in schools during that time is still active. To learn more, visit www.cyclekids.org.
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Highland Elementary School PTO