EDUCATION

Oxford Pathways Commission teams with Oxford High School’s new cycling club

Torry Rees
trrees@go.olemiss.edu

In an increasing digital age, exercise and outdoor activities are being pushed aside for indoor activities, such as watching television or playing video games. Younger generations are becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and being active isn’t a priority.

However, the Oxford Pathways Commission and Oxford High School have teamed to tackle this issue in the form of the new Oxford Cycling Club.

The Oxford Cycling Club is a new group formed by OHS sophomore Brandon Watts and junior Brandon Gunderson this August as a way to stay fit and invite their classmates to be more active.

“Me and Brandon [Watts] bike everywhere,” Vice President Gunderson said. “So, he told me he was starting this club up, and that I should join, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

The club had its first event, Hike and Bike, during which the group started at the school and either biked, walked, or ran to the Square on Oct. 3. The turnout was small, but teacher liaison Sarah Campbell saw positive signs that indicated the club’s success.

“When starting up an idea like this, you have to start somewhere,” Campbell said. It doesn’t have to be cool to be great, but maybe it can be different, which is good.”

Before teaching at OHS, Campbell had taught in Houston, Texas, where she would bike regularly to her job.

“Houston had bike-rich streets,” she said, “so I didn’t have to deal with traffic. I would beat cars to work on my bike.”

Campbell was tasked by OHS principal Bradley Roberson to work with the Pathways Commission to come up with an activity with which students could become involved.

Campbell then met with Pathways Commission member Greg Surbeck, and the two collaborated to form events the OHS Cycling Club could do. The challenge was to get students involved, which had been an obstacle, because not every student had access to a bike.

“The idea was to be inclusive,” Surbeck said. “I think we achieved that by adding an option to walk, run or skate to the Square. That way, no one feels as if they’re left out.”

The event had only four participants. However, more students learned about the event, whether is was through the flyers posted all over the school walls or Campbell talking to students about the club’s upcoming events. Even the school got involved by posting events to its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Health and fitness is important to us,” OHS principal Roberson said. “But, we have to find a niche for everyone that promotes health and nutrition. Mrs. Campbell starting the cycling club is part of that idea, and she’s done a fantastic job on that as well.”

The biggest challenge moving forward for the group is getting the word out and getting students access to bikes. Campbell is already aware of these obstacles, but has a few ideas.

“Students are getting to the age where cars are a want for them,” Campbell said. “The bike has been put to the side. Right now, I’m trying to get students involved in it by asking, ‘Who in your family has a bike,’ and maybe their uncle or little brother will have one for them to borrow.”

Campbell has also suggested that local bike shops adopt some ideas that bigger cities, such as Portland and Houston, have, like holding refurbished bike workshops during which kids can fix and build a bike, and afterwards, keep it.

“It’s a nonprofit organization,” Campbell said. “It’s there to help if anyone wants a bike, they can get a bike.”

Although the club faces challenges, everyone involved foresees the group growing with time.

“Anytime you have a new group, it’s going to take some time to get kids involved,” said Roberson. “But I do certainly see it grow in the future simply because cycling in Oxford is a pretty popular thing. I just don’t think a lot of people have caught wind of it yet.”

“[Watts] said we need to start making it bigger,” Gunderson said. “Then, we went on the first ride, which we thought to ourselves was really cool. We need to get other people to do it.”

Not only are students getting more involved with the cycling group, Campbell said students are starting to ask her about their own health and well being.

“There were several girls asking about health in class,” Campbell said. “They would tell me that they wanted to work out. I told them, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s very exciting that students not even involved in sports are trying to be active.”

The group sent an online survey asking if students would participate in the next Hike and Bike, and over 175 students responded saying they would join, which is very encouraging. Even fellow OHS student Marcy Guzman was intrigued by the next outing.

“Mrs. Campbell is very energetic and active, and she’s always encouraging students to be active,” Guzman said. “I’m not very active myself, but I’m considering walking at the next event.”

The cycling group is trying to make the next event more exciting with a glow ride in November, and they may collaborate with the OHS Band that will hold a glow run event Nov. 12.

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