The North Central Educational Services District (NCESD) is giving away free bicycles to scores of fifth grade students in North Central Washington.

The "Earn-a-Bike" grant is part of a statewide bicycle and pedestrian education program called "Let's GO" which is aimed at students in grades three through eight.

The NCESD's Executive Director of Technology Services, Pete Phillips, says the bikes are being given to kids who successfully finish the course.

"We have over 250 bikes that will be delivered to fifth graders in the region who have completed the program during this pilot year. We're giving away bikes in Manson, Orondo, Mansfield, Omak, and several other school districts. They will all be receiving free bikes for their fifth graders."

The bikes are being made available thanks to a partnership between the NCESD and the non-profit Cascade Bicycle Club of Seattle.

Let's GO is part of the state's Move Ahead Washington transportation package, which is also acquiring bicycle fleets for school districts to provide for student use during the course.

"It's actually a sixteen-year project," explains Phillips. "We started with a handful of districts here in our part of the state at the NCESD and also in Bremerton. The intent is to grow this program so it's at every middle school in the state. So down the road we're looking at having forty trailers full of bikes statewide that provide middle school kids with this curriculum."

The Let's GO courses are taught as part of the physical education programs at middle schools in the state.

Phillips says the program will be expanding to include several more areas of the state next year, including districts in Yakima.

The Orondo School District, which is one of the first in the region to offer the course, will be giving 19 of its fifth grade students free bikes at an assembly on Friday, March 15.

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