There were squeals of delight and smiles on children’s faces inside the gym at Troutman Elementary School on Monday afternoon as a giant rainbow parachute was lifted to unveil 24 new balance bikes.

The Dale Jr. Foundation donated the Strider bikes, helmets and a bicycle rack that will be used in PE class through a program called All Kids Bike.

Through the All Kids Bike curriculum, participating kindergartners learn how to ride a bike.

While there was no checkered flag, the children put on their helmets, lined up and got the green light to test out the bikes. Students propelled forward by pushing their feet against the ground as they circled the gym.

Giving Back to the Community

Before the bikes were revealed, Chief Executive Officer of JR Motorsports and the Vice President of Dale Jr. Foundation Kelley Earnhardt Miller talked to the kindergartners about the foundation and why they give back to their community.

“So who knows anything about NASCAR Racing?” Miller asked as hands went up in the crowd.

She told students that her brother Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove race cars, but that now he talks about racing on TV. Next, Miller introduced students to NASCAR Xfinity Driver Sammy Smith and other members of the race team.

Miller said that being a part of a race car family enabled them to start the foundation.

“We help kids like you in schools like yours to provide different opportunities, so that you can grow, learn and take advantage of all the things that you can as young children, so that you will grow into happy productive adults like we are,” Miller expiained.

The Dale Jr. Foundation also partners with Blessings in a Backpack to help feed children in need.

Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent Jeff James, who was in attendance Monday, said that the Dale Jr. Foundation is a tremendous community partner to district schools.

“This was an awesome event. The partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr. has always been great. We appreciate all that he does for public education. I would encourage any other organization to get involved with the schools — it can only improve the community as a whole,” James said.

Principal Kimberly Cressman said that Troutman Elementary offers several unique programs that make it special. They are thankful for this great addition.

“I’ve been here 14 years and to see bikes in our gym is a wonderful thing for our kids,” she said.

“When you are first starting to ride a bike, you want to make sure there aren’t a lot of dangers around. So this will be eye opening for a lot of our kids,” she added.

Cressman and Assistant Principal Brian Mills assembled the bikes ahead of the event with the help of others who partnered on the project.

“This is a lifelong skill that allows them to be healthy and it’s something that they can do with their families. For some our students, they might not be able to do that otherwise. They will have the proper equipment and can do it in a safe environment,” said PE teacher Donette Clendenin.

Since there are only a few weeks left until summer vacation, the Strider bike program will be implemented next school year, Clendenin said.

According to All Kids Bike Public Relations Manager Kari Hall, kindergarteners will learn over the course of an eight-week program. The curriculum is designed to meet national PE standards. Teachers receive 90 minutes of online training.

After students learn how to balance and master coordination on the bikes, pedals will be added to the bikes.

According to the All-Kids website, bike riding gets kids off screens and engaged with other kids. The program helps students develop physically and mentally, gives them greater confidence, reduces stress and provides better focus.

Community Bike Ride set for May 11

Town of Troutman Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson said the town partnered with the school by providing safety signs and lights for the students.

In Troutman, there are a couple miles of Greenway that runs through the center of town and Barium Springs. There are also two quarter-mile extension trails thar run through ESC Park.

Watson mentioned that May is National Bike Month and in honor of this celebration, the Parks and Recreation Department will host a free community bike ride on Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m.

All ages and levels are invited to participate.

The town also has free bike helmets for anyone who needs one. Call 704-528-7608 for more information.


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