Eight neighborhood friends have discovered the value and joy of being outside, and riding their bikes is their favorite pass time

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - The Prineville 'bike club', from left: Benji Cardwell, Isaiah Gianettino, Rowan Cardwell, Ezra Gianettino, Clyton Parriman, Micah Gianettino, Carson Parriman.On any given day, a group of young friends can be seen in the locale of a neighborhood in Northridge subdivision, riding bikes and enjoying each other's company.

This group, which have the nickname "the bike club," have discovered the value of outside play. One of their neighbors, Stella Oja, watched the group start with a couple of kids and grow into eight youth, who range from 7 years of age up to 15 years old.

"I am a firm believer that we as grownups have an obligation, when we see something like these children playing — which is normal, and they are behaving themselves and following the rules of the road — we should give them a shout out," exclaimed Oja.

Parents of the three families of these youngsters have also noticed the positive changes as their children spent more time outside, but also with their neighborhood friends.

"I noticed from a very early age with my boys that their general behavior as young people was always better when they spent a portion of their day outside," commented parent Rhea Cardwell.

She added that she and her husband always encouraged them to spend time outside and get some fresh air and physical exercise through play, bike riding or sports.

"It generally makes them happier, healthier, kids and it contributes to our family life being more peaceful, so we are avid in encouraging our kids to be outside and to form relationships through playing," Cardwell continued.

She and her husband have enjoyed watching the relationships develop and having their kids make memories in unsupervised play together.

Dixie Parriman, also a parent to three of the bike club, said that she has been following a podcast, "1,000 hours outside." Instead of tracking steps, she is tracking hours outside for her children, because she believes there is a great deal of value in outside play.

Jamie Giainettino, who has three children in the bike club, added that she also wants her children to be outside engaging with other children.

"The more activities they have and the more active they are, they are in a such better mood. My favorite thing in the world is to hear them laugh and to hear them play and have so much fun," said Giainettino

The families all live three streets apart, and the children spend a great deal of time at one another's homes. During breaks, they do other activities, including kick-ball, lunch in someone's treehouse or jumping on a trampoline.

"When they are not riding bikes, they are finding other ways to interact with each other, and there is so much creative play that is happening as well, so just watching them forge those relationships they are learning. Kids learn by play, and that is such a huge piece to raising good humans and teaching them is by play," she went on to say.

Helen Acosta, visiting from California, is great-grandmother to Isaiah, Ezra and Micah Giainettino and commented that she has observed that her grandchildren are active, healthy and learning new things.

"I love the interaction that they have with other children, because it will make them better communicators in the future," she said.

The bike club also seemed to see the relevance of playing outside with their friends, whether it is bike riding or some other activity.

"I like hanging out with friends and having free reign," commented Kenzie Parriman, the lone girl in the group.

Carson Parriman is the oldest of the group. He has two siblings, Clayton and Kenzie.

"I like riding my bike outside because it provides a different opportunity to spend time outside, something other than playing in the backyard or out-front kicking a ball," said Carson.

He added that he likes riding in the neighborhood and playing with the other kids in the neighborhood.

"I have seen these kids go from riding their bikes to, all of a sudden, they started waving. So, it has developed their personality and they are acknowledging people around them. They are becoming very friendly," noted Oja.

She said that after working in retail service for 40 years, she is all about customer service and in favor of greeting people.

"I have never met a stranger. I like seeing that in kids," she concluded.

Brian Gianinettino, father of Micah, Ezra and Isaiah, commented that the activity of the tightknit neighborhood group has helped with his kids' sense of responsibility.

"They come home and ask, 'What time do we need to be back?'"

He added that they have learned time management and keeping track of their outdoor time, in order to balance their school studies and their time with their friends.

The entire bike group agreed that they have become better friends, and they have made new friends because of the time they are outside.

"People don't know their neighbors well anymore, and it is less common to be close, but it is just as important now as it ever has been to know your neighbors so you can be there for them and have a real community right where you live," said Rhea.

She added that she didn't know her neighbor, Stella, until recently through her children.

Rhea added, "I think that is a tremendous blessing and a wonderful gift that just encouraging your kids to be outside has provided. I have high hope that we are able to build other relationships, not just these kids with other kids in our neighborhood — but even the adults getting to know each other more and deepening our relationships together would be a really cool byproduct of outdoor play."

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