PCS is awarded Riding for Focus grant

PCS is awarded Riding for Focus grant
Posted on 05/01/2019
Riding for Focus gets middle schoolers on bikesPlumas Charter School teachers and administrators recently announced that they are thrilled to be one of 130 schools nationwide and in Canada that have been chosen as recipients of the Riding for Focus grant through the Specialized Foundation.

This grant is designed to provide schools with “everything they need to get middle school students riding” bikes, according to the Specialized Foundation. This includes a physical education curriculum, teacher training, bicycles, and safety equipment.

By introducing students to cycling, Riding for Focus aims to improve their fitness and academic performance, “all while instilling a lifelong passion for cycling for students who participate in the program,” according to grant materials.    

Patrick Joseph, the site director for PCS’s Quincy Learning Center, initially applied for the grant last year. During his current leave of absence, PCS Outdoor Education Coordinator Courtney Gomola oversaw the completion of the application; she, along with two Quincy teachers, will also be responsible for administering the grant.

“When we advanced to the next round (in the application process), a group of our seventh- and 10th-graders took the initiative to design, develop, and shoot the short film that was required for the second phase of the application,” said Gomola. (Watch the video below, via our YouTube channel.) “Receiving this grant is not only an awesome testament to the work of those students on creating the video, but also a really great opportunity for our schools to add another facet to our outdoor education programming.”

The nonprofit Specialized Foundation was founded in 2014 after a pilot study by RTSG Neuroscience Consultants indicated that bike riding positively alters brain activity, increases attention span, boosts mood, and improves fitness and BMI (body mass index, the ratio of weight to height).

In addition to providing fitness and academic benefits, the Riding for Focus program will help PCS students experience the unique outdoor opportunities Plumas County provides, said Gomola.

“PCS as an organization recognizes the benefit of getting our students outside and moving to help develop healthy students that also have an understanding and appreciation of the amazing natural resources that are found in Plumas County,” she said. “This grant will help get our students out on the stellar trail systems that transect our landscapes.”

The grant also provides an opportunity to build on existing community partnerships, making the experience even more meaningful for students: “Our students currently work with Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship to help with trail maintenance, and we are very excited to be able to start pairing this work with riding on these trails as well,” said Gomola.

In addition, several PCS students already participate in the Lost Sierra Composite Mountain Bike Team recently founded by local cyclist and teacher Dana Ludington. (Quincy Junior-Senior High School also received the Riding for Focus grant).

Building on the bike team participation, Gomola said she hopes the Riding for Focus program will “help stoke the fire for more students to get out on trails, get active, and help provide outlets for physical activity, which ultimately help improve focus in the classroom and on schoolwork.”

In addition to increasing access to cycling through school bike programs, the Specialized Foundation focuses on research to “advance the understanding of how riding bikes can help improve the social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of children, with a particular focus on those with learning differences like ADHD.”

To learn more about Riding for Focus, visit specializedfoundation.org/ridingforfocus. To learn more about PCS or the implementation of this grant, call (530) 283-3851.

Watch the student-made application video here, via our YouTube channel!