A Kansas Health Foundation grant for Healthy Kids was secured in 1997 to promote healthy lifestyles for children.  The grant enabled the Pratt Health Foundation to hire a health specialist who taught nutrition classes at Southwest Elementary and Haskins Elementary. 

The nutrition classes included an opportunity to taste different kinds of fruits and vegetables as well as see some unique food demonstrations.  One demonstration put a bag of potato chips in a blender which convinced many children that something that disgusting should not eaten.

Another component of the Healthy Kids program was the initiation of the Bicycle Fitness and Safety program.  This segment of the program taught 3rd and 4th grade students bicycle safety and included a fitness ride.  Students were taught the “rules of the road”, how to maintain a bicycle and how to wear a bicycle helmet. 

The Bicycle Fitness ride was a three-mile ride which was led by the Pratt Health Foundation Executive Director, DeWayne Bryan, two days a week at both elementary schools.  The kids affectionately chose to call him “Wonderful, Mr. Bryan, Sir.”  He returned their respect and encouraged them to be thoughtful and kind.

The fitness ride had the appearance of the “Pied Piper” with a string of children three to four blocks long following single file behind Mr. Bryan.  The bicycling routes also included a “killer hill” which was a riding challenge for all participants, including Mr. Bryan. 

All fitness rides had an emergency road service/ ambulance car which followed the single file riders to aid those whose bikes would break down or students who would fall during the ride.  “Police”, provided by the Pratt Community Corrections Department, were also stationed at busy intersections to monitor traffic and prevent accidents since the “Pied Piper” was busy leading the procession. 

Attendance was important and students who participated in 80% of the sessions were included in a drawing for a new bicycle at both elementary schools.  Eventually Strong’s Insurance Agency sponsored the new bicycles used in the drawing.

Since head injuries are often associated with bicycling, bicycle helmets were required.  After the last ride of each season consistent participants were awarded a new bicycle helmet and a popsicle as well.  The Pratt Health Foundation, special injury prevention groups and the Pilots Club provided helmets to give to the children at the conclusion of every year.

Efforts to find someone to continue to direct the Bicycle program have not been successful.  Most participants would say it was a great experience and enjoyed the opportunity.  Mr. Bryan would agree but after 25 years of operation the Bicycle Safety and Fitness program will grind to a halt.