“I can’t believe how good that made me feel!”

️Keep kids moving. At the root of it, that’s what we do at Norte. We know there are cascading benefits to such a straightforward approach. Even 20 minutes a day spent outside running, walking, or riding a bike can transform into a lifetime of healthier habits and achievements. We work with educators across Northern Michigan who see the results every day in the classroom. One such hero is Kip Knight.

Kip is a fifth-grade teacher at Lakeland Elementary in Elk Rapids. Last year, Kip had an idea to provide bicycles to younger elementary students throughout the school day. Homeroom teachers could schedule blocks of time to use bikes to get the wiggles out, and students could also use them during recess. He worked with an 8th grader to design a course (a Girl Scout project for her!) next to the track, which they then mowed and adorned with straw bales donated by Send Brothers and flags by Pro Image Design. For bikes, he looked to Norte.

Thanks to generous donations from the public and local bike shops, like McLain Cycle & Fitness, the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library had a fresh supply for Kip’s grand plan.

“When you give them the gift of riding a bike, you give them confidence and independence,” said Kip. “You can see the excitement and pride build for these students the more they ride.”

Kip also sees improvement in the classroom. When students gain experience riding a bike as a regular part of their week, that confidence spills over into their schoolwork and social interactions. Unfortunately, many don’t have bikes at home or haven’t had much riding practice, even for his fifth-graders. Providing bicycles and time to ride them at school allows educators to create a safe, supportive environment.

“Once we have them out here, we can give up a touch of control. That freedom helps develop trust and mutual respect between students and teachers,” said Kip. He sees that trust as the foundation of a child’s successful education.

Lakeland’s experience has led to many students developing leadership skills as they mentor young, inexperienced riders. For example, one older student replied to Kip after helping a younger class, “I can’t believe how good that made me feel.”

That’s the Norte spirit. Helping others and recognizing how good that makes you feel. So, as we enjoy the last month of summer, we’re also looking forward to once again working closely with our school partners in Northern Michigan. Of course, it doesn’t always look the same from school to school, but the goal remains, keeping kids moving, bringing smiles to faces, and developing those habits that contribute to happy, healthy, strong communities.

In Elk Rapids and elsewhere across Northern Michigan, we’re rolling out after-school fall programmingschool-based education, and plenty of community opportunities to stay active. Thank you to all the educators out there helping to make it happen.

How can we help?

~ Team Orange

Images above: Top of page, Coach Lauren leading a summer bike camp team around Elk Rapids. Middle of page, Kip’s homemade storage rack at Lakeland.



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