Recently, the Mary Hogan Preschool Program, Frog Hollow Bikes, and Safe Routes Middlebury partnered to bring six new balance bicycles to the preschool. Balance bikes do not have pedals and are great tools for beginning cyclists. These bikes will promote outdoor activity, improve safety skills, and further community engagement through biking.
Over the past 18 months, the COVID pandemic has brought about some positive changes to the Mary Hogan preschool program. While they have always recognized the importance and value of outdoor experiences for children, Kim Forbes, preschool educator said, “the pandemic prompted us to rethink how we utilize our environment.” This examination inspired them to take full advantage of the wonderfully rich natural resources and opportunities for learning that the community offers. They no longer feel confined to the school grounds and have incorporated weekly adventures, in which they explore and discover the world outside their classroom.
The teaching staff and the children within the program have benefitted from time spent in our community. Forbes said, “we have gained new knowledge of our surroundings, a sense of place, and a greater understanding of the interconnectedness of systems.” Pedestrian safety is already an important aspect of their adventures. Introducing and supporting the young children to learn to safely bike is like a logical and attainable next endeavor.
There is tremendous value in being outside, and in exploring the community. The Mary Hogan Preschool Program, Safe Routes Middlebury and Frog Hollow Bikes partnered in order to get more children and families outside; walking and biking. It is their belief that by providing more young children the opportunity to learn to bike will engage more families in biking and, ultimately, promote a more active lifestyle.