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Pedalling to a healthier lifestyle
Louie Norwegian School uses funding to purchase mountain bikes

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 12, 2011

TTHEK'EHDELI/JEAN MARIE RIVER - The sight of students bicycling on mass along the community’s streets is becoming a common one in Jean Marie River.

NNSL photo/graphic

Students in Jean Marie River including, from left, Alisha Grossetete, Holly Norwegian, Esmeralda Antoine, Kyla Norwegian, Zaida Sanguez and Kody Hardisty-Sangris are now enthusiastic mountain bikers as a result of the Louie Norwegian School’s new biking equipment. - photo courtesy of Terry Davidson

For the past three weeks on almost every school day the seven students at Louie Norwegian School along with principal Terry Davidson and classroom assistant Connie Villeneuve have gotten on nine mountain bikes and set off for rides that last approximately an hour.

The school purchased the mountain bikes using a portion of $15,000 that it received from Active After School funding distributed by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. Mountain biking was a natural choice for the school, said Davidson.

“The children do like bicycling and we do a lot on the road- walking, jogging, skiing and snowshoeing,” he said.

The bikes have been incorporated into the school’s growth plan that includes healthy living and healthy lifestyles components. Since September, the students have been participating in active sports and activities both during and after school hours, Davidson said.

The students were so excited with the bikes that when they first arrived in late April the whole school went bicycling twice a day. The students, ranging in age from seven to 14, have now settled in a routine where they start biking in the last half hour of the school day and finish an hour later. In that time, they cover five to six kilometres on the Jean Marie River access road.

“Everyone loves it,” said Davidson.

“It’s a really great, healthful exercise.”

With six kilometre rides under their belts the students are now setting new goals. Over the next two weeks beginning on May 9 they’re working their way up to reaching the bridge closest to the community on the road. It’s a 12 km round trip.

Kyla Norwegian, 14, is confident that reaching the bridge and peddling back won’t be difficult.

Norwegian said she hasn’t found mountain biking very tiring yet and is enjoying the exercise and riding with her classmates. Because she doesn’t have her own bike, Norwegian said she’s particularly happy the school bought some.

“I was very excited because they looked all brand new,” she said.

Along with riding the bikes, Norwegian and her classmates are also learning how to take care of them. So far Norwegian knows how to put a bike chain back on if it comes off and how to check tire pressure and add more air if necessary. Future maintenance lessons will include adjusting the brakes and shifting mechanisms.

“It’s been going really great,” said Davidson.

The school will be using the remaining money from the funding to purchase equipment for archery, indoor hockey and badminton.

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