The Mid-Columbia Health Foundation has teamed up with Chenowith Elementary School in The Dalles to improve literacy and fight childhood obesity through Read and Ride, a nationally recognized program that encourages students to use exercise bikes while they read.

The local Read and Ride program was funded by a grant from the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation. Written by the North Central Public Health District, the grand awarded funds to North Wasco County Public School District 21 for 60 under desk pedal units and three desk bicycles. The units are currently being used in 4th grade classrooms at Chenowith.

“Mid-Columbia Medical Center is proud to partner with Chenowith Elementary School, North Wasco County Public School District 21, and the North Central Public Health District to help fight childhood obesity and improve literacy,” said Celeste Hill-Thomas, executive director of Outreach, Communication, and the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation. “We are pleased to promote community health by ensuring that children stay active while they learn.”

Read and Ride has been successful in school districts around the country. Movement is key to maintaining focus, according to multiple studies. Educators have also reported improved reading proficiency, better behavior, and fewer sick days among participating students.

Initial results at Chenowith Elementary School have been positive. Teachers are grateful for the units and have noticed decreased behavioral issues among students. Students have also been enthusiastic about the pedal units and desk bicycles.

Mid-Columbia Medical Centerand North Central Public Health Districthope to expand the program into all elementary schools in the district.

“Now that the Read and Ride program is established at Chenowith and we are collecting data, the next stage is to reach out to the other elementary schools in the district and partner with them to develop their own Read and Ride programs in their classrooms,” said MCMC Physical Therapist Assistant Shawn Girdham. “The target grades would be 3rd-5th, preferably operating during the students assigned reading time. We would like to start this next stage in 2018.”