Reading Rodeo at Vincent Massey Elementary School

SAINT ANDREWS – Bikes and books do go together, at Saint Andrews’ Vincent Massey Elementary School in the month of May at least. The school’s 142 Kindergarten to Grade 5 students had special incentive to participate in the annual spring readathon. This year a Reading Rodeo was organized by physical education teacher and town councillor Kurt Gumushel. The last bike event had been held several years ago. This year as a special treat, readathon participants could earn tickets for the books they read for a chance to win one of 19 bicycles.

The Wednesday, May 4 Reading Rodeo was an outdoor event to celebrate with reading and cycling with community partners, despite the rain. The RCMP and the Kiwanis Club of St. Andrews helped the bicycle and scooter users understand safety as they navigated a course, every class having a half-hour slot. Staff from Hayward’s Bike Shop from Saint John attended and was kept busy doing minor bicycle repairs and inflating tires for anyone who wished.

Of the prize bicycles, 10 are repurposed bikes provided by Hayward’s Bike Shop. Nine of the bicycles were provided with funds through the Age Friendly Committee, an ad hoc committee of Saint Andrews Town Council. Town Clerk Senior Administrator Paul Nopper explained to The Saint Croix Courier that when the town received its designation as an Age Friendly Community in 2019, it realized that the funds set aside could benefit townspeople ages zero to 100. “For example,” Nopper says, “if a community puts in sidewalks that are good for wheelchairs, those are also good for strollers.”

“The funds bought bike repair stations last year,” Nopper says, “that were just installed this year.” This year, Age Friendly wanted to buy bicycle bells for Saint Andrews school children. “But there were two problems,” Nopper says, “Bells are difficult to get right now, and not everyone has a bike.”

In conversation with Canadian Tire in St. Stephen, the committee was made aware that the $2,000 funds could purchase nine bikes with bells and helmets. Canadian Tire offered to donate a 10th bicycle. The bicycle prizes were revealed to the students at the Reading Rodeo event.