Access, equity and learning how to adapt
Three girls with their new bike helmets
Let's Go provides bikes, helmets, and all other program supplies and trains P.E. teachers to deliver dynamic lesson plans for children of all learning styles and abilities.

 

Access, equity and learning how to adapt

By Rachel Osias, Youth Programs Manager

 

It’s late March. The sky is overcast, the air is crisp and conducive to goosebumps. As I maneuver towards the main office of Green Lake Elementary, I notice that traffic is light, and the street is uncrowded. As I near the building entrance, I can hear student voices and laughter within, while silent productivity falls on the city outside.

About two months ago I joined Cascade Bicycle Club as their new Youth Programs Manager, overseeing programs both within and beyond the scope of Washington state education standards. On this particular day in March, my new position gave me the opportunity to observe something radically new within Cascade’s youth programming — the Let’s Go elementary adaptive programing pilot.

The Let’s Go curriculum underwent an extensive makeover at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic school year to further enhance its ability to educate a diverse array of students. The adaptive pilot was specifically re-crafted to support the unique needs of students with special physical and/or cognitive needs.

Cascade’s education team worked in partnership with the Seattle Public Schools special education lead staff and the staff of Outdoors For All (OFA), to make it all possible. In order to meet the needs of students with severe-to-moderate disabilities, each member of the tri-organization teaching team was part of differentiating the curriculum.

This adaptive program is unlike any of its kind, and can easily be overlooked in large, pressurized academic systems. Typical physical education curriculums are narrow in scope and only accessible for a specific student demographic. Cascade’s adaptive program aims to break out of the confines of these standards into the realm of specialized equipment, lessons and teaching strategies.

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Walking into the school’s gym that morning I experienced an emotional overload: student faces revealed elated smiles; tongues stuck-out sideways in concentration; and small bodies manipulating some super rad bikes. Occupational therapists cheered while they helped students navigate cones, mock street signs and the specialized instructions from their P.E. teacher. Seattle Public Schools, Outdoors For All and the members of Cascade Bicycle Club should feel proud to be engaged with such justice-oriented, imaginative and heart-centric work.

As we look forward to the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year, I am excited by our dedication, hard work and commitment to supporting all students in healthy, active and joyful lives. Using the detailed feedback from the staff and families of all three partnering Seattle pilot schools, we are eager to continue pursuing deep and meaningful education for youngsters using the bike as a tool for transformation.

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To learn more about the progress of this project, or any of the other unique educational programs ignited and led by Cascade’s team, please visit cascade.org/learn.

To give to the Let's Go match challenge, please visit cascade.org/giveletsgo.