Students are 'Riding for Focus' in Dedham

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DEDHAM, Maine (WABI) - "Last fall, I became aware of a grant program put out by the Specialized Bike Company."

Tim Pearson works as a physical education and health teacher at Dedham School. He helped secure a $25,000 grant from Specialized Bikes' non-profit, 'Outride'.

"The purpose of it is to get kids on bikes but specifically to help kids that may have focus issues such as ADHD."

The school was able to purchase 27 mountain bikes, helmets, curriculum, and training for staff.

"When kids are physically active during the day, it helps them focus when they get back into the schoolwork. And long-term physical activity actually builds brain cells and builds connections so kids are able to make decisions to focus better and to do better academically in classes."

Nick Boyd is an eighth grader at the school. "Today is our first day on them. We've been practicing our starting and stopping"

Gilman Taylor, also in eighth grade, has been anticipating the bikes since last year. "I was pretty excited because I love biking. I bike all around town."

"Studies have shown that one out of nine kids struggles with ADHD." says Pearson. "And that isn't any different at our school. The ratio is similar. Those are the kids that are going to benefit the most from it."

"It's nice to get out for an hour and just bike around" says Gilman. "Especially when we have standardized tests for two hours a day."

Whether the students are new riders or have been biking for years, Pearson says the focus on safety and technique is designed to help them improve.

"Three weeks from now, every single kid is gonna have the biggest smile on their face that they've ever had at school when they're riding their bikes around during the school day."

Volunteers have helped build some mountain biking trails behind the school for the students to use.

"Go to everydayhero.com and look for Dedham School. If you donate there, that money is actually matched by the Specialized Foundation for our school to be able to build trails, storage, and continue with the bikes that we have or new bikes if we need them."

The school hopes to continue to expand the program to provide the most benefit for the students.