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Grant Applications to Open for “Revolutionary” ADHD Learning Program

The Specialized Foundation runs a school-based mountain biking program designed to help children with ADHD or learning disabilities achieve greater social, academic, and personal success. Find out how your school can apply for a grant to participate in the 2018-2019 school year.

February 1, 2018

Beginning February 15, interested U.S. schools may apply for a 2018-2019 grant from The Specialized Foundation, an organization that uses a unique school-based mountain biking program to improve attention and academic performance in tweens with ADHD. The grants cover the full cost of the program for selected schools; 20 middle schools across the country were rewarded grants for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Foundation’s signature program, known as “Riding for Focus,” lasts 6 to 8 weeks. During that time, students ride provided mountain bikes a minimum of 3 times a week, for at least 20 minutes at a time. The Specialized Foundation supplies schools with bikes, safety equipment, teacher training, and a curriculum plan to incorporate mountain biking into students’ daily lives. Grant recipients will also be invited to the “Riding for Focus Health and Education Summit” to be held at Stanford University.

Mountain biking, proponents of the program say, combines aerobic exercise, reflexive movements, focus, quick decision-making, and hand-eye coordination in a way that’s beneficial to all children — but particularly helpful to those with ADHD or other learning disabilities. The program also encourages children to maintain the bikes themselves, fostering independence, accountability, and self-esteem.

Starting in 2012, the Specialized Foundation partnered with RTSG Neuroscience Consultants to research its program’s impact on students with ADHD. In a pilot study of middle school students with ADHD, researchers found that just one mountain biking excursion reduced impulsivity and produced higher scores on attention-related tests. Students with or without ADHD who completed the entire program had higher scores on standardized math tests than did students who didn’t bike.1

The next phase of research will aim to “examine the unique advantages that cycling can provide over other forms of physical activity for kids with ADHD,” according to the company’s website. The Foundation has partnered with researchers at Stanford Medical School to understand how structured cycling programs — varying in intensity, duration, and frequency — may more effectively help children with ADHD manage symptoms and perform better in school.

The application process for school grants open February 15. Interested parties can learn more about the program and the grant here. Though The Specialized Foundation provides equipment and curriculum support to schools, it encourages school administrators to factor in logistical considerations — like storage capabilities, community support, and safe biking routes — before applying.

1 The Specialized Foundation. “ADHD Bike Program Final Report: Wilson/Kennedy 2013.”

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