MARYSVILLE Can you ride your way to a better report card?
The YMCA thinks so, and since about 1970 has used motorcycles to entice students to pick up the slack and their grade point average at the same time.
Last weekend the Marysville Y held the National Youth Program Using Minibikes Rodeo where teens are tempted with CCs. Some were having problems with grades or discipline, others were placed in the program by parents to provide a little more incentive to work harder in school. To earn riding time each week, up to two hours, the students sign contracts stipulating certain tasks they will complete. Improving their grades is one big one; others could include being more respectful to their parents or teachers.
Either way the kids had a fun time at Allen Creek Elementary School, where those who completed their tasks got to wheel around the grounds on small motorcycles. They competed against each other on an agility course that included a stop to dive into a haystack to find a t-shirt. Only after they donned the shirt could they turn their bikes around and complete the course.
For Annie Taylor of Marysville the program was a kick start.
Its a good way for kids to get active, said Taylor. We get out and explore. You learn a lot of responsibility.
That includes taking care of the bikes donated by Honda, completing progress reports and earning a C in each class. Every D on their transcripts costs a student 30 minutes of riding time, said Taylor, a ninth-grader at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
She wasnt having serious problems with the school or the law, but her mother Clhoe said she put Annie in the program because its a good tool.
Its definitely improved Annies outlook on school, her mother said. I can really tell she has improved her respect.
Connor Holdaway is a sixth-grader at Highland Christian School in Arlington, and his mother put him in the program even though he was doing pretty good in school. Kinder Holdaway said her family rides bikes and that Connor learned more respect for the machines during the NYPUM program.
It has worked to our benefit, Holdaway said.
Kirk Swain has been running the program for three years at the Marysville Y, and on weekends riders use the dirt track at his home.
Everybody thinks its a dirt-bike program. Its not, its a behavior program, Swain is quick to point out.
Participants can demonstrate their behavior improvements at home, in school or during community service on summer break. For Wendy Bart, director of the North Snohomish County Y, the program is designed for kids who dont participate in structured programs.
Its a gateway into programs that these kids wouldnt participate in, Bart said as the riders took a break after the finals.
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