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Ingham County Parks unveils bicycle playground for kids of all ages

Entrance of Burchfield Park's Dirt School. The area is fenced by a wooden fence and there's is an arch around the entrance that says "Dirt School". Children on bikes can be seen cycling in the playground.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Kids of all ages in Ingham County now have a new place to hone their bicycling skills at Burchfield Park. Dirt School is Michigan’s largest bicycle playground.

Kids of all ages in Ingham County now have a new place to hone their cycling skills at Burchfield Park. It’s called Dirt School.

Tucked away to the south of Lansing, in one of Ingham County’s most popular outdoor recreation areas, you can now find Dirt School.

Burchfield Park Manager Tim Buckley says they've created Michigan's largest bicycle playground.

"Dirt School is a biking playground and skills course for kids of all ages, if you can kick a pedal bike, all the way up to adults," he said. "It's a dirt path. And there's all kinds of features, there's wooden bridges, wooden ramps, you have a slalom there, some tubes, some hoops, some different terrain, in the back there for the skills portion of it."


Hazel Morgan visited the park on opening day with her mom Teresa Delisle. Hazel is 10 years old and says she's been riding bikes ever since she was four.

"I've been biking almost my whole life," she said. Hazel is really excited about the opportunity to improve her mountain biking skills at Dirt School.

"I think probably we're gonna start with some of the easier things," Delisle said. "Yes!" Morgan exclaimed. "And then probably work our way up toward them some of the more challenging things. But it's nice, because if you don't make it the first time..." Delisle added. "You can try again," Morgan responded.

A large portion of the funding for the playground is through a grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation. Cindy Hales, vice president of community investment at the foundation, is hoping the playground helps draw more children to the park.

School aged boy, Liam Luongo, is seen riding his bike at Dirt School. He's headed for a tunnel at the playground. He's wearing blue pants and shirt and a helmet.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Liam Luongo rides his bike at Dirt School.

"We would really like to see, not only great participation like we're going to have today, but also opportunities for kids who might not typically come out to Burchfield Park, for an experience to have to have some motivation and excitement around doing that," she said.

William and Katie Luongo brought their son Liam to the school’s inauguration event after learning about it on Facebook. William says Liam will take any opportunity to try new things, especially when it has to do with bikes.

"So there's a lot of that here with like, the tubes and the different fixtures and stuff. So he's pretty excited," he said.

It will allow kids and beginning mountain bikers the opportunity to learn to mountain bike with, hopefully, a few less epic experiences than I had.
Matthew Bennett, Ingham County Parks & Recreation Commission chair

Ingham County Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Matthew Bennett says Dirt School is a concept that isn’t available anywhere else in mid-Michigan.

“And it will allow kids and beginning mountain bikers the opportunity to learn to mountain bike with, hopefully, a few less epic experiences than I had," Bennett said.

For those who don’t have bikes, the park offers some to borrow, along with helmets.

Riding and learning how to fall off their bikes gracefully is exactly what Hazel Morgan and Liam Luongo are hoping to learn at Dirt School, so that they may eventually be ready to explore Burchfield’s more challenging mountain bike trails.

Dirt School is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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