By Kristian Rasmussen
A Canal Flats teacher and her elementary class are saving up their pedal strokes to save lives in the Kootenays.
As part of the annual Bike to Work Week from May 28th-June 3rd, teacher Jennifer Habart has committed to cycle to her work at Martin Morigeau Elementary school from her home in Windermere.
While she rides, she will be raising money for digital mammography equipment for the East and West Kootenays.
She has also asked her Grade 6 and 7 students to jump on their bikes and participate in the week of pedal power.
“I want to get everybody on board and really encourage others to get involved for a wonderful cause,” Jennifer said. “I think it would be really great if everybody rode to work.”
The teacher was born in the valley and has enjoyed cycling all her life.
“I feel amazing after riding my bike,” she said. “Riding leaves me with a feeling of being happy and energized.
“When you go out on your bike you don’t really have to think about things. It is pure freedom.”
Jennifer will need all the energy she can get. The teacher is working on getting up to a daily commute distance of 70 kilometres.
The teacher’s students needed a little convincing to get on board with the cycling event.
“When I said it at first they weren’t that excited,” Jennifer said. “When I told them that I’m riding 50-70 kilometres a day, they completely changed their minds. The cool thing about being a teacher is that I can directly motivate students by being excited myself.”
Despite being an avid cyclist, the valley teacher has a personal connection to the cause. Her mom had breast cancer, and one of Jennifer’s co-workers has also been touched by the disease, so fundraising for breast cancer screening equipment means a lot to her.
Riding dozens of kilometres seems easy in the Columbia Valley because of the beauty of the area, Jennifer said.
“We are so lucky to live here because we have so much opportunity to be outdoors and have a beautiful setting to go riding in. I think that anyone who is currently cycling should keep up their routine, and people who don’t ride to work should try it. The endorphins will keep you going all week!”
“Riding is excellent exercise and helps to cut back on carbon emissions,” said Troy Kusy, Bike to Work Week Kootenays Coordinator. “This is a great way to start the day. Just knowing that you did your part.”
Jennifer and other East Kootenay cyclists have registered for the event, and are collecting donations until the end of Bike to Work Week on June 3rd.
Those wishing to showcase their bicycling bravado for a good cause may register themselves or make a donation at www.biketoworkweek.ca/kootenays.