ROSEBURG, Ore. – About once a week after school, Karissa Frahm, 9, hopped on a stationary bicycle and pedaled away at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley facility in Roseburg. After about three minutes of effort, she’s generated enough energy to power a lamp or a blender.
That’s because the bike she rode is no ordinary piece of exercise equipment. The Pedal Power bike, built by Oakland, Calif.-based Rock the Bike, allows Karissa and other students at the club to generate electricity. Once a month, the students get to power up blenders and make smoothies. Karissa’s favorite is strawberry banana.
Amy Staats, AmeriCorps garden and healthy lifestyles program facilitator, ran the Pedal Power program, along with a gardening club, for the Boys and Girls Club in Roseburg. The bike was purchased with a grant from Northwest Community Credit Union.
“I do Pedal Power once a week and we do Pedal Power smoothies and Pedal Power blender once a month and they love those days,” Staats said of the kids. “We make the smoothies with the blender, that’s one thing, but we’ll charge up lamps, radios. They love to charge my cellphone, which I love as well.”
Karissa and the other kids who lined up to use the Pedal Power bike each week are practicing good habits of exercising and eating well, but it feels like they’re just having fun.
It’s a hard bike to ride, Karissa said, but she loves it. So did her friends and fellow Fir Grove third graders Sophia Stewart-Swallow, 8, and Kadie Davis, 8.
Sophia explains the energy the kids produce by cycling gets transferred into a box.
“If you hook that box up to something else, it can give that thing energy,” she explained.
“Sometimes we get a radio, a light and we’ve done a blender a few times,” Karissa added.
“I think it’s a good way to get exercise and then when Amy does the smoothies with it, you get a treat out of doing pedal power,” Kadie said.
Staats said she puts the bike on a fairly hard gear, because it charges up faster. Each kid rides the bike for about three or four minutes.
“By that time they usually get tired because it’s a lot of work,” she said.
She said she has the kids submitted their own smoothie recipes about a week before each smoothie day.
“I require that there be at least two fruits and a vegetable in them. Then from there they can kind of use their imaginations. The last one we had was yogurt, spinach, mixed berries, some juice. They’re all healthy ingredients and a lot of the kids will be really apprehensive to try it, just because it’s green and it’s spinach,” she said.
Once they taste it, though, they love it – even if it has a new vegetable.
Staats also runs a garden club for the kids, who have planted their own vegetables, including onions, radishes, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers and beans.
Uriah Smith, 6, especially liked the gardening part of the program. He likes planting vegetables, and his favorite, he said, is the onions.
He’s already had a chance to taste some of his own produce. The onion he tried, “was kind of hot,” he said.
Staats hopes the kids who started in her program this past school year will be growing their own smoothie ingredients.
“They’re going to hopefully be able to do the whole full circle experience, of starting from our seeds to our table to our blender to our bellies,” she said.