When it comes to making physical activity a priority, the Hudson Valley knows how to do it best.
Collectively, the Orange County Planning and Health Department, the Department of Small Interventions (DoSI), and the Orange County Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) launched an interactive bicycle garden this summer with an aim to educate Horizons-on-the-Hudson (HOH) students on bicycle safety and road etiquette in a creative and engaging environment.
While drafting a bicycle action plan that would pinpoint the best routes for a bicycle network in Newburgh in 2020, the concept for installing a learning space in which kids can experience this joyful activity was born.
That same year, the CHSC team funded the purchase of 30 bikes for the Newburgh elementary school along with bicycle racks, safety gear, and equipment like mini traffic cones that helped bring the project to life. They also added A Walk Safe, Bike Safe Elementary School Physical Education Curriculum, developed by the New York Bicycle Coalition. The program is designed to help students learn about the rules of the road and their relationship to fellow bicyclists.
Gillian Matos, principal of Horizons on the Hudson, expresses her support for the project.
“Challenging and creative play, combined with physical activity, contribute to children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development,” she says. “The bicycle garden is a safe learning and play space that will help HOH students move better and safer within the city.”
Ed Manner is the local artist behind the garden. He, along with his apprentice Trevor Crotes-Lozado, knew exactly how to bring the vision to life. Together, the duo created a vibrant display of different scenes that helped elevate the garden’s inspirational qualities and get kids excited about biking.
Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, founder of DoSI, describes the process behind finding Manner.
“At first it was very challenging to find a professional striper who would paint the asphalt,” she explains. “We invited several companies to look; however, the road surface was subpar which is a real issue when applying new paint. However, we pivoted and looked to do it free-hand. We knew Ed Manner had done similar asphalt art projects and when showing him the site, he not only understood the task at hand but ran with it.”
Conveniently located next to the garden are several posters designed by local graphic designer, Hael V. Stewart-Fisher. They serve as a reminder to kids about the importance of bicycle maintenance and road regulations.
Hersson-Ringskog illustrates what she hopes to come from this addition to the city.
“The goal of this project is to creatively shift the attitude and culture of walking and bicycling to school and build a sense of confidence and normalization of bicycle culture,” she says.
Currently, the garden is only open to HOH students but public access may be available during community events.
Horizons-on-the-Hudson Magnet School
137 Montgomery St, Newburgh