When Kobe Humphries won a bike recently, he decided to pass on the good fortune.
The Courtenay Elementary Grade 4 student already a bike, for one thing, and knowing his friend Khylie Bates-Matheson, also in Grade 4, didn’t have one, he decided to give the Supercycle mountain bike to her.
“She’s just one of my best friends since I came here,” Kobe says.
He moved here from Parksville a couple of years ago and started going to Courtenay Elementary.
“It felt pretty good,” Khylie says. “I like to bike for fun.”
He won the bike through a school draw, held for students in grades 4 and 5. The Masonic Hall’s James Baird had brought by a couple of bikes to the elementary school for a giveaway to the students at the beginning of the year.
“He said, ‘We want kids to read, but we want kids to be active too,’ and I said, “So do we,’” says school principal Catherine Manson.
At the same time in January, the school was undertaking some literacy initiatives, so they decided to use the bikes as an incentive to encourage the goals of the literacy programs. The goals included not only reading on one’s own but other objectives such as co-operating with teachers or helping some of the younger students between kindergarten and Grade 3 with their reading. At the school, the older students act as buddies for the younger students by preparing and practicing with a particular book, which they then read to the young students. For the literacy work early this year, the more of the objectives the students accomplished, the more ballots they would get to enter for the bike draw.
Both students are readers and are especially big fans of graphic novels, but the prize draw provided an extra push, with the draw happening at the end of February.
Manson said the school has also worked with Canadian Tire for a donation of some scooters, so that the younger kids, those between kindergarten and Grade 3, could have their own class draws for a prize.
Baird of the Comox Freemason Lodge #188 started the program this last year after running a similar one in Chilliwack for seven years. The local Comox Valley lodges, including Cumberland Lodge #26 now, have added several schools to the program.
“We just buy two new bikes and two new helmets and take them into different elementary schools,” he says, adding they also did a middle school, Lake Trail, this year too. “We tell them for every book you finish, your name goes into a barrel… the more books you read, the more chances you have of winning the bike.”
Other schools include Aspen Park, Ecole Puntledge Park, Queneesh and soon Cumberland Community School.
Baird, who’s a former teacher, says the basic idea behind the program is to get elementary school kids to “unplug.”
“We are driving literacy throughout the year, and then exercise,” he says. “It’s not a one-time thing. We’re going to keep going year after year.”