Some Bailey Middle School Students Will Participate in “Riding for Focus” Program
Bicycle riding will be included in the Bailey Middle School phys ed program this coming year. But it’s more than just another way for students to work up a sweat. It’s a program created and funded by the Specialized Foundation that uses cycling as a tool for middle-school students to achieve academic, health, and social success.
Known as “Riding for Focus,” the program is designed specifically—but not exclusively— to help middle schoolers who cope with ADD and ADHD. The program is already offered in about 125 schools across the nation. Bailey will begin its Riding for Focus program with 21 Specialized brand “Pitch” model mountain bikes valued at about $500 each.
When school begins this fall, 33,000 students will be participating in the program in about 130 schools in 45 states and Canada.
Partners in the Bailey program gathered to celebrate it on Thursday evening. As Bailey principal, Chad Thomas will have overall responsibility for its development. Bailey phys ed teacher, Stephanie Ford, wrote the grant proposal that provides $30,000 for the program, and she will handle its day-to-day engagement. Cornelius police officer who is also the four-year Bailey resource officer, Patrick Malderalli, will accompany Ford and students on their 30-minute thrice a week warm-up rides. Students are accustomed to seeing Office Malderalli on two wheels since he already patrols the sprawling campus on a bike because it helps him get from place to place most efficiently.
Technicians from Spirited Cyclist’s Davidson and Huntersville stores assembled the new bikes at no cost, and will maintain them for a year.
In addition to bicycles, the grant will finance helmets and other safety equipment. It also pays to fly Ford and Malderalli next week to California for three days of training on how to run the program. Ford noted that the program features a detailed 18-lesson curriculum. The Bailey duo will also learn how to gather data on the students at the beginning and conclusion of each semester to determine how much it helps alleviate ADD and ADHD symptoms.
Riding for Focus has established seven ideals it seeks to promote: Safety, Fun, Fitness, Success, Independence, and Confidence.
James Good, a member of the Spirited Cyclist ownership team, said the program takes advantage of the benefits of cycling. He said, “It’s a great way to get kids off of video games. Everyone gets involved, and no one gets to sit on the sidelines.”
Specialized founder Mike Sinyard was motivated to create the program in 2012 because of his own struggles with ADD. Research showed that riding bikes helps kids with ADD be more focused and attentive in school. So riding in the morning before classes helps students overcome their hyperactivity and calms them for the classroom.
PE teacher Stephanie Ford said she’s looking forward to the advent of the program, and noted that Bailey Park, and its associated neighborhoods and greenways, provide many areas for participants to explore. She said, “It’s also one of few forms of exercise that virtually any student can participate in. It quickly builds up confidence and gives kids a sense of accomplishment, freedom, and adventure. It improves the dynamic of student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationships. And it’s fun!”
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.