Wednesday, December 14, 2016
More than 300 Shadow Oaks Elementary students in kindergarten through third grade met their individual reading goals last month and, as a result, the students picked out a shiny, new bicycle and helmet recently.
The bicycles, 311 to be exact, were distributed Dec. 7 through Direct Energy and Cycle Houston. Founded as Elves & More, a holiday related gift-giving initiative for children in need, the nonprofit group changed its name several years ago to Cycle (Changing Young Children’s Lives Through Education) Houston.
Cycle Houston CEO David Entrekin is a Spring Branch resident. His volunteer-led group now focuses on literacy in kindergarten through third grade, the key years to build strong abilities in the areas of reading and writing.
So far, about 50,000 bicycles have been awarded by Cycle Houston to deserving students throughout the Houston region.
“One of the biggest takeaways for our campus was that our students felt so deeply accomplished by meeting their reading goals,” said Dante Garcia, the Community In Schools (CIS) project manager at Shadow Oaks Elementary. Garcia organized the Dec. 7 student bike event.
“We had many Direct Energy and Cycle Houston representatives and teachers who helped, and they were even outside cheering and applauding the students riding the new bikes for the first time,” he said. “The teachers were thankful and happy, too.”
Cycle Houston believes that a bicycle and helmet are one of the most valued gifts possible for young readers and students, a memory they will keep for a lifetime.
“With our bicycle program, we want to encourage children to be active physically and mentally, empowering them to improve their literacy and also break the cycle of poverty,” the nonprofit organization states.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that U.S. children who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are more likely to drop out of high school, reducing their earning potential and chances for success as an adult.
According to the local Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, most Texas fourth-graders are not as proficient in reading at grade level as they should be.
For more information, visit CYCLE.