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CSUB Partners with Kaiser Permanente for Runner Read and Ride Program

California State University, Bakersfield’s (CSUB) Physical Education and Kinesiology (PEAK) Department was awarded a grant from Kaiser Permanente in June 2015 to start the Runner Read and Ride program, a partnership between CSUB and Buttonwillow Union School District.

The Runner Read and Ride Program gives students a chance to read while riding a stationary bike, which are referred to as “FitDesks.” There will be a program demonstration and reception on Tuesday, March 15 at Buttonwillow Elementary School (42600 Highway 58 Buttonwillow, CA 93206) from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“We are thrilled to be developing this relationship with CSU Bakersfield. As an elementary school we realize the important role the University plays in our children’s future and the pipeline of educated students we provide to CSUB,” stated Stuart Packard, Principal of Buttonwillow Elementary. “It’s fun to see the students excited to exercise while reading.”

According to the California Physical Fitness Report in 2013, 56% of 5th and 7th grade students in the Buttonwillow Union School District (BUSD) had health risks based on body composition. Buttonwillow is located in Kern County, which ranks as one of the highest of the 58 California counties in deaths from heart disease and is second highest in deaths from diabetes. Over 44% of K-12 students are overweight and more than 60% of the county’s population are considered obese. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, when children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes of physical activity daily, there are significant health benefits.

“Collaboration is critical to improving Kern County's overall health, so when CSUB partnered with Buttonwillow school on such an innovative program, we knew this special relationship would yield positive results,” said Kristin Weber, Senior Community Benefit Specialist for Kaiser Permanente, Kern County. “Providing grant funding for the program has been an excellent investment in the future of both organizations and the students they serve.”

The idea behind the Runner Read and Ride Program is to not only illustrate CSUB’s educational opportunities for its students, but also to promote healthier lifestyles for youth in low-income, rural areas. Kris Grappendorf, Chair of the Kinesiology Department will be coordinating faculty and student research. The faculty researchers will guide three CSUB students to support program implementation and data collection.

“The Runner Read and Ride program has allowed us to combine both reading and physical activity into one. For twenty-five minutes, four days a week, my students have been reading self- selected novels while moderately exercising with ‘FitDesks’,” said Amanda Turpin, teacher at Buttonwillow Elementary School.

Since the program launched five weeks ago, students have acquired 10,275 minutes of reading and riding at the same time. They have also shown more of an interest for wanting to read on their own time, and have asked Turpin to purchase additional novels. “Overall, the Runner Read and Ride Program has had a positive influence on my students. I look forward to continuing this program over the next couple of months,” said Turpin.

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