The “Read & Ride” program in Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is so simple, it is simply brilliant. This NBC Today Show segment below frames it as a way for educators to solve the (classroom management) problem of “fidgety kids.” However, the power of reading while riding (on donated stationary bikes) goes well beyond addressing classroom management issues. It promotes “action-based learning” which feeds the body and the mind. No bikes? No problem. Schools around the country are using bouncy balls, standing desks, bungee cords—anything to provide a vehicle through which students can “expel energy,” as described in the video:
While the report links student participation in Read and Ride (at least three times per week) with increased rates in reading proficiency, the program has much deeper and broader implications for children (and adults). Increasing students’ physical movement during (and throughout) the school day addresses the serious challenges faced by children today: Rising rates of physical inactivity and obesity-related illnesses. In fact, several studies report that such cardiovascular activity increases brain function and has a direct positive effect on academic performance (see chapters 1 and 5 in Healthy Teens, Healthy Schools: How Media Literacy Education Can Renew Education in the United States).
What is there not to like about the Read and Ride program? If you use your stationary bike at home as a clothes hanger more than you use it as a piece of fitness equipment, consider donating it to a good cause. In fact, you can donate yours right now to a high needs school in South Carolina on Donorschoose.org
Afterall, there is a lot riding on the health of children in the United States.