Originally published Oct. 7, 2019 in the Nevada Appeal.
By Jessica Garcia
Piñon Hills Elementary School Principal Jason Reid drew the curtain back Friday in the multi-purpose room and students marveled at 18 neon yellow Strider bikes lined up neatly on stage. They oohed and ahhed, wondering when they’d get their chance to learn how to ride them.
With the help of local motorcycle enthusiast and editor Josh Sheehan, Piñon Hills is the first Nevada school to implement the All Kids Bike campaign that makes the Strider bikes available to elementary campuses.
All Kids Bike certifies kindergarten teachers at schools through an eight-lesson program and supplies them with Strider bikes, conversion kits, helmets and a support plan and the tools they need to establish a physical education program. Kids learn how to properly ride bikes with their safety in mind. The campaign matches schools with funding partners within their own communities.
“This is a really cool program, it benefits the kids,” Sheehan said.
The initiative began in March this year by the Strider Education Foundation. At least 100 schools in 15 states are starting up programs through Strider to bring its bikes to schools and encourage students to learn how to bike from an early age.
Sheehan has three children, 12, 6 and 4, and he and his wife are expecting another. He says a program likes this makes a direct impact on his own kids and wants to bring this type of initiative to schools for other parents to bond with their children.
“I’m trying to keep my kids away from the screens and video games,” he said. “I’m very heavily involved with motorcycles. My youngest son is involved in racing. My daughter is just learning.”
But that’s “the parent side” of him, he said. The professional and concerned citizen in him also wants to make this program accessible to other parents who don’t know about the resources that All Kids Bike can provide.
“By bringing this in and teaching the kids how to ride and ride safely and love two wheels as much as we do, we’re also teaching sustainability by getting kids to ride at a younger age,” he said.
Sheehan, editor of Basket Case magazine, began working with Paughco in Mound House, a manufacturer of custom and obsolete parts for Harley Davidson motorcycles. The bikes were assembled in September and sent to Piñon Hills. The school’s teachers will be working with students, helping them to develop their bike riding skills and ensuring they become confident in safety.
Paughco Vice President Bob Paugh said three of his staff members received the bikes in September and assembled the bikes in about an hour.
“We’re good friends with Josh and decided we were going to be his company to start this program,” he said. “Just being here today and watching the kids having so much fun with it — it’s good to get the kids out there and have them be motivated into doing stuff physically rather than on the games and stuff like that.”
Paughco, now a third-generation company, began in 1952 and originally moved from North Hollywood, Paugh said, calling the move to Northern Nevada a blessing.
“We didn’t realize there were blue skies,” he said. “But it’s been a pleasure being here watching the kids and seeing their enthusiasm. Actually coming back and seeing them using them, that’ll be fun to see.”
Piñon Hills parent David Stern, a father of two and whose fiancé has one in the school and together they are expecting a child, said he fully supports the Strider program.
“I think it takes the whole program to another level, and it gives (the kids) something to look forward to at home anyway,” Stern said. “It’ll get them a lot more excited, and for some kids that have a little bit harder time learning to ride bikes, this makes it a little easier to understand. … My son knows how to ride bikes now, but not everyone does, and not everyone has the means to get bikes.”
Reid thanked all the groups who made this possible in the presentation on Friday and noted the benefits that assist the students as they pick up the skills while being active.
“It’s a lot of research that goes along with movement and activity that links to academic activity, performance and academic success in life,” he said. “Along with that, there’s brain activity, brain coordination and how that works on both sides of the brain.”
Donations had to be secured to make the program work, and Sheehan, who worked for a software security program, said he got to work right away, approaching his employer to support the program.
Sheehan said he began collaborating with Reid soon after. He hopes to see All Kids Bike continue to expand in Northern Nevada but was pleased by its reception in Douglas County on Friday.
“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” Sheehan said. “I think it’s something the parents can get behind. Public schools, they don’t always get this opportunity. It costs money to have this program, and so to bring other parts of the community in, to help with the donations in and with the assembly of the bikes… I felt like it brought the community together a little bit and surrounded them on two wheels. For a guy like me, that’s awesome. Two wheels has changed my life and I know it’s benefited my kids’ life, and that’s for the positive.”