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PUBLISHED: 4:59 PM on Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Sitka tribe, SEARHC launch Tlingít & Friends Bike Club
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program and the SEARHC Diabetes program have teamed up with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska to help launch the Tlingít & Friends Bike Club.

The club held an organizational meeting Sept. 4. This meeting gave potential members a chance to shape the direction of the club, said Paulette Moreno, Family Wellness Coordinator for Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She said the club is open to all Sitka cyclists, and tribal members are encouraged to participate.


Courtesy photo
  The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program and the SEARHC Diabetes program have teamed up with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska to launch the Tlingít & Friends Bike Club.
"We're in the developing stages," Moreno said. "We'll talk about the mission of the club and the guidelines, and try to figure out what we want to accomplish. We want it to be fun, and we want the club to be something the members want to be in. We're kicking it off, but we want it to be grassroots and be able to sustain itself."

The SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program and Sitka Tribe of Alaska have provided grants to get the club going. The SEARHC Diabetes program is providing logistical support and Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop is providing some safety equipment and shop time.

The Tlingít & Friends Bike Club will be geared toward families and elders. There will be an ambassador program for more advanced riders, who will serve as role models for the other club members and will make presentations to groups such as the Sitka Native Education Program or Boys and Girls Club. Future plans include classes on bike mechanics, how to ride in the rain, and adaptive bikes for elders or disabled people. One of the main reasons for the club is to promote healthy physical activity among Alaska Natives.

"We want to promote healthy family activities," Moreno said. "We'll host bike clinics and family rides, and we plan to emphasize safety - wearing helmets and obeying the rules of the road. There are a lot of bikes at home that aren't running because they need a new chain or tire, and we want to help get those bikes back on the road. We want to encourage tribal members in more family wellness activities."

"It is well documented that engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity five or more days a week significantly lowers an individual's risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, all diseases which are currently plaguing our population," said Gretchen Clarke, Community Coordinator for the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program. "Any effort that goes toward reducing those risks through healthy and enjoyable activity is to be applauded."

For more information on the Tlingít & Friends Bike Club or to pick up an application, please contact Paulette Moreno at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Healing House at 747-2669.


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