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Stoney Nakoda students finish trip with opening of new bike shop

“In this situation, we thought the best way to handle the bikes was to donate them to the school so they can be used year after year … We thought that was really going to become something good that they could build right into their curriculum."
28 MCS Bike Shop Opening 0004
Elder Sykes Powderface rides an accessible bike through the new Morley Community School bike shop in Morley on Friday (June 7). Photo credit: Aryn Toombs

MORLEY – It was a snowy Friday afternoon in June when Grade 9 students and faculty from the Morley Community School made their way back from an annual cycling trip to Lake Louise and back.

While the last day of the trip was a cold one, the students returned to the school to find a newly built bike shop garage.

The annual tradition began with a partnership with Two Wheel View, when the organization proposed bringing a bike mechanics program to the school. For the past five years, it has become a staple in the Grade 9 curriculum and that’s when the idea of creating space for a bike shop came about.

“I’ve been working with the school for the past two years and Two Wheel View has been around at the school for the past five years now,” said Becky Giammarino with Two Wheel View’s Full-Cycle Program. “We have run the bike mechanics program with the Grade 9 students and every year we take them on a trip biking to Lake Louise and back to Morley.”

In addition to Two Wheel View’s efforts at the school, Pink Bike’s Share the Ride program announced this spring it would donate 36 bikes to the school. The goal was to continue to integrate bikes into the lives of students and foster a bike culture at the school

“In this situation, we thought the best way to handle the bikes was to donate them to the school so they can be used year after year … We thought that was really going to become something good that they could build right into their curriculum,” said Pink Bike organizer Stephen Exley.

Between the bikes, the mechanics program and the annual trip – Morley Community School teacher Emily Parkin was noticing the momentum at the school around bikes and the lessons students were learning as a result.

“They were totally self-sufficient, they bought groceries along the way and carried their tents and camped along the way and then made it back here today. [Today] was to celebrate those students and the journey that they’ve been on,” Parkin said.

The journey is 127-km one-way with about 10 to 15 students participating each year. Parkin also participated in the bike trip and while every year, the weather ended up turning for the worst, she said that it is act as a good learning experience for students.

“I’ve done it three times and the last day is always rain. It’s never been snow, but it has always been raining, which is kind of great because you want them to go through all of the emotions and everything that they experience on the journey mentally and physically,” Parkin said.

For the students, the bike journey is an incredible way of challenging themselves.

“I think as an educator, the last day being this epic challenge of wanting to get home so bad, but having to push through the rain and the elements, is a pretty incredible journey to see them go through,” Parkin said.

When the students and Parkin arrived back at the school on June 7, cold and wet from the journey on two wheels through a snow storm, the newly added bike garage – located inside a seacan adjacent to the school – was officially opened.

Learning to ride on bikes, gives students the courage to tackle anything Parkin said. Whether it’s a math equation or they are stuck on an essay question, students can look back on the moment they made that jump, rode their bike down a steep hill or even when they participated on the bike journey from Morley to Lake Louise.

“We’ve had the chance to introduce a lot of these cycling things, bike mechanics and biking, but it had to come from within [the community] and now there are kids that are super into it … The community knows what’s best for the community and right now that’s what’s happening there,” Giammarino said.

With the new bike shop addition, bike culture is becoming a big part of the school. Upcoming plans include exploring the idea of creating single-track bike trails and a pump track to continue to further foster bike culture at the school.

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