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Kaiser teams with GECAC to teach smart choices
blender bike
Christine Smith rides the blender bike to make a batch of healthy peanut butter (substitute) and jelly smoothies for a group of first and second graders in the Give Every Child a Chance after school tutoring program at Shasta Elementary School Tuesday afternoon. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Everybody knows that riding a bike and eating healthy are good for you.

But what if you did them together?

That’s exactly what the students at Give Every Child a Chance sites across the area get to do when the “blender bike” makes it to their campus for a special health-oriented appearance designed to get the kids interested in the notion of eating healthy food and exercising.

And it looks exactly the way that it sounds.

A large, colorful bicycle with no back wheel actually has a mechanism that turns a blender blade when the pedals are pumped – allowing for the placement of things like peanut butter replacement, bananas, jelly, milk and other goodies to be mixed while the person is getting a fair amount of exercise in the process.

It might not necessarily be the most viable way to prepare healthy food, but for a room full of first and second graders, it’s an amazing way to get them to pay attention to what’s going on and take away the result that eating healthy doesn’t have to mean chowing down on vegetables that most kids would rather skip.

According to GECAC’s Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator Chris Hwang, it’s the first glance that usually sells the idea.

“I think it’s the initial ‘wow’ factor that gets them to pay attention, and it gets them to realize that food is energy and you need to expend energy in order to require food,” she said. “It’s something that’s fun for them and when they get to see a new invention like this, they take something away from the experience.”

It definitely caught the attention of Mason Bailey – who sat right next to the whirring wheel that churned out the tasty goodness that all of the students got a chance to sample.

“I think that it’s fun,” Bailey said. “I just got a new bike for Christmas, and this makes me think of that. I like to ride bikes.”

According to GECAC Program Director Chuck Crutchfield, the health focus of lessons like the one given on Tuesday are presented through a sponsorship with Kaiser Permanente and help focus on a variety of topics including healthy choices and personal development that were displayed through a series of tests that explained making good emotional choices.

Adding an element of something that’s fun, he said, is an easy way to get the attention of the kids and relate the information to them in a way that they can both understand and enjoy.

And site coordinator Christine Smith agreed wholeheartedly.

“There are all sorts of advantages to this, and one of them is that you actually burn calories while doing something fun and it relates back to making good eating choices,” Smith said. “And they really like trying it if something that they’ve made, which is always good.”