Helping NYC Kids Grow Strong, Fit and College Ready!
I Challenge Myself’s mission is to encourage and support public high school students to embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, to develop healthy lifestyles and prepare for college and the workforce.
Launched in February 2005 I Challenge Myself has developed two health-based youth development programs, Cycling Smarts and the College Bike Tour focused on character development through fitness and college awareness. To date I Challenge Myself has directly served over 500 public high school students in the Bronx, Washington Heights, Harlem and Bushwick and indirectly over 600 1st to 12th graders in the Bronx and Washington Heights.
Through an evaluation I Challenge Myself is conducting of the Cycling Smarts program with the help of a third party evaluator we have learned from focus groups the program impact on the students we serve:
- “It was about my health. In the 7th grade, I used to eat pizza everyday. The challenge for me was to be a healthier person, especially because I have asthma. I felt proud of myself of being able to do the 100 miles. This program has completely changed my habits… I stopped going to fast food restaurants.”
- “I was more motivated and less bored with school. I could focus more in my other classes.”
- “I learned to work in groups with other people, which I was not really good at doing before.”
Cycling Smarts is offered as an elective class and is characterized by the following:
- Unique non-competitive fitness challenges that consist of a 3-hour indoor Winter Fitness Challenge (obstacle course) in January and a Century Ride, a 1-day 100-mile bike ride to Carmel, NY, in June provide, that provide hard, but tangible, goals for the students to achieve.
- Vigorous cross training program consisting of 120-300 minutes per week of indoor spinning, outdoor cycling, resistance training, and running 3-5 days a week that help students increase fitness levels.
- Connection of academic concepts with physical activities every week for 60-90 minutes (e.g. track aerobic heart rate, map reading, application of physics, etc.).
- Goal setting and reflection activities that help students process activities and progress.
Fall 2011 Partner Schools
1. Bronx Aerospace High School (Sep. 2010- present)
2. George Washington Educational Campus (Feb. 2007- present)
3. Validus Preparatory Academy (Sep. 2011-present)
4. East side Community High School (Feb. 2012-present)
I Challenge Myself provides schools with equipment including bicycles and riding gear, identifies and contracts teachers from participating schools to teach the after school portion of the class, provides curricula, onsite technical support to instructors, organizes the end-of-semester challenges and student recognition ceremonies. Partner schools include Cycling Smarts as an elective class and provide meeting space.
Regional College Awareness Bike Tour
In July 2011 ICM launched a pilot 10-day summer College Awareness Bike Tour of Upstate New York colleges for 9th-11th graders who successfully completed the Cycling Smarts. Students in this innovative summer program will participate in:
- Training rides ranging from 35-50 miles from 7/15/11-7/22/11;
- Research colleges being visited: Syracuse, SUNY Oneonta, Colgate and Marist College;
- Workshops on college search, financial aid and application processes;
- Tour of 4 Upstate New York colleges, with pre-arranged campus tours, meetings with admissions and financial aid officers, and Q&A with organized college panels; and
- Self-reflection and assessment activities.
I Challenge Myself Future Plans
- Peer Educators –a train the trainer model to prepare Regional College Bike Tour returning students to further develop their fitness and leadership skills to co-lead workshops for incoming students and other stakeholders.
- Youth Leadership Council–a student run program that will engage students in service learning projects that affect NYC communities in the areas of health, fitness and social justice.
- Cyclists Without Borders — summer program for YLC members that would allow them to travel outside the U.S. as part of a service learning project.
- Expansion of I Challenge Myself programs to additional NYC high schools, to high schools across the country and possibly internationally.
I Challenge Myself, 1460 Broadway, Suite 10-216, New York, NY 10036, Tel: (212) 735-7849, Email: email@example.com