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Pedal Pushers

Polson students participate in ‘Healthy Choices’ bike to school event

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POLSON — The annual Bike to School event for Cherry Valley and Linderman elementary schools was held last Friday, seeing nearly two hundred kids pedal their way to school. 

This year’s event was sponsored by St. Joseph Medical Center and their medical staff took to the sidewalks to wave and cheer kids on as they zoomed by with their police escorts. 

“We had a huge turnout,” Polson Schools’ Tereza Hanson commented. Involved in putting the event together, Hanson explained the schools are looking to emphasize healthy choices for students. “My goal for these kiddos is to empower them with the power of a choice, a healthy choice, and to kind of champion them along that way.” 

She and Erin Rumelhart of St. Joseph’s worked together to gather medical caregivers in front of each school to cheer on the students, which Hanson said made the ride into a celebration for kids. St. Joseph’s was also able to buy helmets for students without one, and even made stickers to help celebrate and incentivize kids riding their bikes to school. 

“It was fun,” Rumelhart commented. “This is one active way that’s full of fun and also engages parents as well, which I think is really important … It’s such a great community event.”

This was the first year the schools and the medical center worked together for this event, Hanson explained. This came about when the last school nurse left the position and the facility stepped up with about five nurses volunteering to rotate through to help. “With Erin’s help we were able to get some of St. Joe’s nurses into our schools as school nurses, and just from there we were brainstorming ideas of ways to kind of bridge that gap between education and health, and this was kind of our first step,” Hanson stated.

“It’s been so rewarding, I can’t even tell you,” Rumelhart said of her work helping out as a school nurse. “It’s so profound, the ability to impact these kids’ lives in a way that I had no idea how much was needed.” 

Hanson shared that the annual event is planned to take place twice next year, once in fall and once in spring, to help continue encouraging kids to get active and bike to school when they’re able. Rumelhart added they hope next year to add some community members and businesses to make another fun event for the kids. 

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