It’s all about getting down to business when Jefferson-Houston students enter the Ruby Tucker Center after school these days. Complete homework? Check. Have a popsicle and read a book with friends? Check. Then it’s out the door and onto their neon yellow bikes for their usual neighborhood bike patrol.
Schools across America participated in Walk and Bike to School Day last week. It was also a good opportunity for us to check in on some of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) students who received bicycles and helmets after principals, assistant principals and administrators built 40 bikes for them as part of a team building exercise at their August Leadership Institute.
Unfortunately, biking to school isn’t an option for everyone in Alexandria. Busy streets like the US 1 corridor that funnels through Old Town make biking to school risky. But this group of kids doesn’t have a problem with that. Although they’d like to bike to school, they spend their afternoons honing their biking skills for what they say will be a bike commute to middle school when they’re older and a bit more road savvy, of course.
The bikes have changed the afternoon routines for the students who attend Ruby Tucker. Big sisters taught little sisters to ride. Little sisters can now keep up with big sisters skirting around the neighborhood. They’re outside and active and having a blast.
Ki’ya Fairmon, a fifth-grader at Jefferson-Houston zips around the neighborhood with her friends.
I especially like when the wind blows in my face on a hot day. I like the way the breeze feels as it cools me off. And I like riding down the hill so the breeze can come,” says Ki’ya.
Ki’ya was particularly grateful for the new bike as her old one had been stolen, leaving her bikeless for several years.
Receiving the bike donation was a dream come true for Ki’ya. She says that being able to ride a bike again feels like a miracle.