Spring Street Academy students will be riding stationary bikes on Friday to support Clara Hughes' cross-Canada bike ride for mental health.
AMHERST – Students at Spring Street Academy will be pedaling their way to mental health on Friday.
To show their support for Olympian Clara Hughes, who will visit the school on Monday, the students and staff will take turns riding a number of stationary bikes in the school gym to raise some money for mental health programs.
“We wanted to do something to help raise awareness of mental health issues and raise a few dollars to help with local mental health programs,” teacher Daren White said. “We talked to Cumberland Mental Health to see if there are any programs we can help raise money for and they thought it would be a great idea.”
White said he’s hoping to raise at least $500 from the Big Ride Inside and hopes Hughes will be able to join with students and presenting a big cheque to Cumberland Mental Health on Monday.
“We’re hoping to collect a dollar for each student and staff member who participates,” White said. “Everyone will spend 10 to 15 minutes on the bike, 30 at a time.”
White said he has been contacted by other schools in the Amherst area asking if their students can participate in the ride. He’s also hoping others in the community will bring some donations to the school’s office.
He is also amazed at how the community has come together to help him put together the ride.
“I only came up with this idea a few days ago and the community has embraced it,” he said. “I asked if I could borrow some bikes and the response was tremendous. The school in Pugwash donated a number of bikes, the YMCA also came through with some bikes as did Your Place while we had individuals in Amherst, Brookdale, Tidnish and elsewhere call and say they had a bike we could use. We had a couple of people say we could keep the bikes.”
Besides the ride, White said students have been participating in an art project drawing photos of the activities that make them happy.
Earlier this month, organizers of Hughes’ Big Ride tour announced they were adjusting the medallist’s Maritime leg so she could come to Spring Street Academy on Monday. Hughes was originally supposed to take the ferry from Prince Edward Island to Pictou, but organized changed the schedule out of concern with ice conditions in the Northumberland Strait.
She is now expected to speak to students at the school at approximately 12:45 p.m. on Monday and then get on her bike and ride to Truro via Spring and Church Street to Robert Angus Drive, South Albion Street and the Trans-Canada Highway.
White thought about inviting Hughes to school to help it heal after his second battle with cancer and after popular principal Barry Kelly passed away after a battle with cancer. He also hoped it would start a discussion of mental health and raise awareness in the community of mental health issues.
Hughes, who has battled mental health issues of her own, is a six-time Olympic speed-skating and cycling medalist. She is the national spokeswoman for Bell Let’s Talk. Her Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk began March 14 in Toronto and will wrap up Canada Day in Ottawa.