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DL Schools get gift of bicycles

In the spirit of the New Year and a healthy 2014, Detroit Lakes School District leaders are enthusiastic about a new present — a trailer full of brand new, state of the art bicycles.

Minnesota’s Statewide Health Improvement Program recently kicked in a grant that allowed the school district to purchase 40 new TREK bicycles, a new enclosed trailer to store them, equipment to fix them and helmets for each bike.

The bikes are 24-, 26-, and 28-inch bikes, typically designed to fit children around the nine- to 14-year-old age range.

The Detroit Lakes School District was one of four that received a package of bikes like this, along with Fergus Falls, Breckenridge and Moorhead.

As part of a signed agreement with SHIP, the district has promised to use those bikes for two things: curriculum and community.

Once school is back in session, physical education teachers for 4th - 6th graders will be busy figuring out how to best create a mandatory bicycle course that will run as part of the district’s regular PE curriculum.

“We don’t know if they’ll end up doing something on it this spring, but definitely it’ll be in next year’s curriculum for sure,” said Detroit Lakes Superintendent Doug Froke, who says the idea behind the SHIP grant is to help eliminate childhood obesity and diabetes.

But Froke says another stipulation to the district accepting the bikes is an agreement that ensures these bikes won’t just sit locked up in a trailer all summer when school is out.

Although the district doesn’t know yet how it will share the bikes with the community, details on it are being discussed.

A couple of ideas being tossed around are possibly running the bikes through the Community Education program, giving the public an opportunity to rent the bikes.

“Church groups, boy scouts — groups like that can just come in, get the key from us for the latch and then hook the trailer up to a four-wheel drive vehicle and head on over to Itasca to go biking for the day,” said Froke, who says the area has become a great place for people to take these bikes out.

“We’re getting all the trails, Detroit Mountain … it’s a great opportunity to use these amenities now,” said Froke.

Another idea being considered is a possible partnership with the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, although at this point district leaders are still trying to determine what they can and cannot do since the bikes were provided through a state grant.

Renting them out somehow will be the direction likely taken, according to Froke, as the SHIP grant does not provide for anything else to keep the program running and the bikes in good shape.

“That was part of the agreement — is that we figure out a way to keep the program going ourselves,” said Froke, “but we wanted to make this happen because this was just too good to pass up.”

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