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Kids bike to Buffalo schools today

Delaware Park was all about wheels Wednesday morning as students, parents and teachers from School 54, the George D. Blackman School of Excellence, marked Bike to School Day, sponsored by GOBike Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools.

“We’re trying to get more people bicycling, and what better way to teach kids about the benefits of bicycling than when they’re young,” said Henry Race of GOBike Buffalo.

“Research shows the students were better prepared to learn throughout the day when they are active in the morning,” he added.

Sun was just beginning to break through the morning clouds as about 30 students, parents and escorts began the 1.76 mile lap around the park.

Jennifer Rusch, who teaches second-grade special education at School 54, knows firsthand the effect exercise has on her students.

“When they first come into school in the morning, I feel like they are still waking up so I think if they could bike to school every day, they’d be more alert,” said Rusch, who served as an escort.

Students who met at the park could “carb up” at a makeshift fruit stand set up by GOBike Buffalo instructor Nathaniel Hill.

Hill is in the “Recycle a Bike” program that gives children bicycles donated to the GOBike Shop in North Buffalo.

“The kids get a bike, they take it apart and put it back together with our instruction,” said Hill. “They learn a full spectrum of bike maintenance.”

This marks the third year for the bike-to-school program.

Participating schools also include Bennett Park Montessori 32, which met at the Central Library at 8 a.m.

“This partnership is changing the way our students think about healthy living,” said Will Keresztes, associate superintendent of student support services.

For many students, biking to school fulfills a districtwide initiative that each student achieve 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Among those participating in the event were Stephanie Ware and her six-year-old daughter Helena, who rode an 18-inch Misty.

“Outdoor exercise is important, especially after the weather we had this winter,” said Ware. “We’ve all been cooped up in the house these last few months,” she added.

“When it is safe, convenient and fun to walk or bike to school for all kids, our children will be healthier, our streets will be safer and our communities will truly become great places to live,” said Justin Booth, executive director of GOBike Buffalo.

Bike to School Day is part of the Safe Routes to School initiative focusing on making this a reality for all families in all neighborhoods throughout the city.