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GC Huston Principal Hugh Morrison (left) and Martin's Bicycle Shop owner Brett Martin with one of the 16 Specialized bicycles awarded to GC Huston, only one of three schools in Canada accepted into the program.

GC Huston Public School in Southampton is one of only three schools in all of Canada to have been awarded 16 new bicycles through Outride, formerly the Specialized Foundation, a non profit organization that provides cycling interventions to improve social, emotional and cognitive health.

Displaying one of the Specialized bikes, teacher Colin Alexander announced the news to the GC Huston students September 20. “Outride is teaching kids that riding our bikes is going to help them to overcome many difficult challenges in their life." Alexander added that they would be starting a new after school program for Grade 6 to 8 students. “Learning to ride bikes, learning to handle bikes and ultimately seeing the benefits that they're going to get in riding bikes like this.”

Southampton's Martin's Bicycle Shop owner Brett Martin, who brought the program to the school, said it was a two step process to apply. “First filling out some forms and then we had to compile a video,” said Martin, explaining that the video included activities at the school such as their annual Stanley Pot street hockey championship, Pow Wow dancing and visiting the classrooms. “Just showing that it's a pretty active and diverse school to begin with.”

Martin explained that it was a two year program. “Then you can apply again for more bikes if you want to keep building it,” Martin said, adding that the after school program was starting this fall.

Martin was in Toronto when they received an email to say that GC Huston had been accepted into the program. “It was a good surprise because you don't know how many other schools there were." Martin added that although the program has been running in the United States for a few years, this was the first year in Canada. “There was a school in Montreal, one in the Yukon and us that were accepted, that's it."

The bikes are currently at the Martin's Bicycle Shop in Southampton and will be delivered to the school this week for the students to assemble themselves.

For more information on the program, visit outridebike.org.

 

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