MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Just more than 40 middle schools in the United States will be receiving a grant for the Riding for Focus school program by The Specialized Foundation, promoting biking in schools.

South Middle School in Morgantown will be one of them, but biking is not new there.

Jeremy Bartholow is an industrial arts teacher and leader of a Bike Club at the school.

He spearheaded the grant initiative that included several steps in the application process but will result in new equipment for his students.

“Specialized is providing bicycles, all the safety equipment, bicycle computers that will track fitness,” Bartholow said of the grant. “We are going to have a complete class for that instead of just a unit within a physical education program.”

Bartholow said he will be teaching the 9-week elective biking course that will be available for students to take all year long.

In the current Bike Club at the school, 65 students ride monthly with Bartholow at White Park located next to South. Bartholow welcomes anyone to sign up for the new course.

“With losing eighth graders and gaining sixth graders, we have some room here,” he said. “You don’t have to be a bike club member to do this. You just have to have the passion and desire to want to get out and ride.”

Bartholow said the Riding for Focus program under The Specialized Foundation has worked with Stanford and Central Michigan universities to develop a curriculum for a bike class, with a deeper goal in mind.

“Their goal is to show that cycling can be a huge deterrent with ADD and ADHD,” he said. “That’s the whole premise of this is to show that physical activity really helps make the symptoms of ADD and ADHD curtail in a classroom.”

Bartholow said he will look at student grades and individual education plans the year after the class to see if it is working with overall student success.

Success in the form of physical fitness should not be a problem with new fitness equipment received with the grant.

Bartholow said the new equipment will include Garman bike computers, heart rate monitors, cadence sensors and speed sensors.

The equipment can be used by parents too, as Bartholow said the school will hold activities outside of school including a night ride at White Park.

“Students and parents can come out in the evenings,” he said. “Fortunately we are located right next to a park in town that has some pretty awesome mountain biking trails as well as some gravel trails.

“Parents can come out and ride and be able to ride a new bike for free.”

Bartholow said the Bike Club is sponsored by Wamsley Cycles in Morgantown and the shop will help assemble and maintain the new bikes received from the grant.

Wamsley will be the specialized retailer, which was a part of the grant process.

To learn more about the program, click HERE.

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