By Della Lowe
The Healthy Dixie Council and the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance have offered grants to The Bicycle Collective to help implement the collective’s Bike Workshop for Title I After School Programs. The goal of the workshop program is to offer a way to collaborate with schools to reach children not only by encouraging active lifestyles but also by providing skills that will help young children understand how to maintain their bikes and receive a bike if they cannot afford one.
“We want to spread the skill of understanding bike mechanics and the fun of biking in a more sustainable way than simply giving away free bikes,” said Judith Rognli, location director of St. George Bicycle Collective. “Our goal is to obtain enough funds to hire a mechanic for three months to teach the workshops along with volunteers. We will teach the basics of bike repair to children, who have bikes already and offer bikes for others to work on. Those children who are pre-qualified because of need will then receive a free bike once they have completed the workshop.”
The Healthy Dixie Council along with its partners in health — which include Intermountain Health Care, the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, The Bicycle Collective, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, and the City of St. George Leisure Services — have launched an umbrella campaign called GOWASHCO. The initiative is meant to reduce physical, cultural, or psychological barriers to participating in active lifestyles from a young age. At times, those barriers can be the lack of safe routes to walk or bike to school or a lack of knowledge on the part of citizens about what opportunities exist to add activity to one’s life.
“The Healthy Dixie Council has offered The Bicycle Collective a grant of up to $4,000 to cover some of the expenses of starting the Bike Workshop program,” said Kye Nordfelt, chairman of the Healthy Dixie Council and director of health promotions at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. “The overall goal of [Healthy Dixie Council] is to get young kids physically active so it becomes a lifelong habit. We like to encourage all citizens to be active in their daily activities, and school is one of those activities for children. Therefore, biking or walking to school is something [Healthy Dixie Council] has encouraged through safe routes to school initiatives, bike rodeos to teach bike safety and other initiatives with the Washington County School District.”
Nordfelt remarked that by combining the efforts of several agencies, each one can contribute resources in the way they best can. For example, the health department can organize activities and educate families on safe routes to school. The Bicycle Collective can educate youngsters on the use and maintenance of their bikes as well as providing well maintained bikes to kids who are not able to afford to buy a bike. Intermountain Health Care provides monetary support and contributes educational materials and health care both preventive and curative; the City of St. George has consistently encouraged citizens and employees to access healthy activities provided around town.
The Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance is a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to improving cycling in southern Utah. It strives to promote the infrastructure, policies, attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge necessary to make bicycling safe, convenient, and inviting for residents of and visitors to southern Utah.
“Because Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance works to help local communities reap the economic, health, and transportation benefits of increased bicycling, we are excited to be part of the initiatives of the Bicycle Collective to involve young children in the fun and benefits of biking. We believe that the earlier children begin the habits of an active lifestyle, they are more likely to keep those habits for life,” said Craig Shanklin a Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance board member. “[The Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance] has pledged a grant of up to $1,500 to assist the collective with start-up costs for its workshop program.”
“When young people involve themselves in more physical activity, studies have shown it has a positive impact on their cognitive and learning abilities,” said Rognli. “But overall when people get out of their cars and use a bike for transportation to and from work or just for recreation, it actually helps to create communities. When you are riding a bike, you are more apt to speak to your neighbors, shop locally, understand what is happening in your community. Indeed, aside from the obvious health benefits, you are connecting with your community and those around you who are building St. George.”
About Healthy Dixie Council
Healthy Dixie is a group of Washington County citizens involved in government, business, and education and committed to promoting healthy habits in the county. The council strives to encourage positive lifestyle and legislative change through community and government outreach and education with the goal of improving the overall health of the citizens of Washington County. The council distributes grants for programs that encourage healthy lifestyles, create community-based events, and participate in wellness expos.
About the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance
The Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance strives to promote the infrastructure, policies, attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge necessary to make bicycling safe, convenient, and inviting for residents of and visitors to southern Utah. The Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance endeavors to help local communities reap the economic, health, and transportation benefits of increased bicycling.
About The Bicycle Collective
The Bicycle Collective is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and full-service bike shop. It dedicates its efforts to the idea that the bicycle is a solid option for transportation that can help clean our air, reduce traffic congestion, and make everyone a little healthier. And let’s face it: bikes are just fun.
The mission of the Bicycle Collective is to promote cycling as an effective and sustainable form of transportation and recreation and as a cornerstone of a cleaner, healthier, and safer society. The collective provides refurbished bicycles and educational programs to the community, focusing on children and lower income households.