For our blog over the next few days, we’re asking our three summer interns to reflect on their, “Week Without Walls” experience. WWW is a time all scholars of Shortridge High School leave the school to experience different educational activities and to help the scholars learn more about their community, explore career interests, learn new skills, engage in new physical activities, and develop or refine personal goals. For WWW 2016, our staff at Nine13 organized and administered an educational bicycle tour of Indianapolis with the Physical Education teachers of Shortridge. Here is what Jack Cunningham, from Indiana University, learned from his, “Week Without Walls” experience:

On May 23rd and 25th, I had the opportunity to ride through the city of Indianapolis with a few of the scholars that attend Shortridge High School. Being from Indianapolis, I had been on the Cultural Trail before and knew a little bit about it, but this was my first in depth look into a very unique feature of Indianapolis. We started out on the Fall Creek Trail and then hopped on the Monon Trail and followed this all the way to the Cultural Trail. We used this trail to ride along Mass Ave and other parts of the city and learned various historical facts along the way. We learned that originally the Monon was a train track that helped support car manufacturers in the city, and at one point Indianapolis even had more car manufacturers than Detroit.

As we headed down the Monon and towards the Cultural Trail, the kids were able to look at some of the murals that had been painted on the interstates to help beautify the city. Tom pointed out various pieces of art, sculptures, etc. and noted that the city was going to great lengths to restore and revamp these areas. As we rode down the Monon we eventually linked up with the Cultural Trail where we talked about the new IPS/old Coca-Cola building and the old Real Silk factory. We also discussed the Indy signs that are located around the city at various points, and the inclusiveness those are meant to represent.

Each day we rode through the Wholesale district and stopped at the famed City Market for lunch and a break from riding. City Market is truly an amazing building with so much history being well over 100 years old. The building itself has had many different uses but is now home to many local food vendors and is a great place to eat lunch in the city. This stop gave the kids a much needed rest and also allowed Tom to share some of the knowledge he has about the area and its history.

As lunch ended, we continued around the Cultural Trail and focused the afternoon on the historical monuments that Indianapolis has to offer. Indianapolis has the second most monuments of any city in the United States, second only to Washington D.C., so this was a great focal point for the afternoon. We stopped by monument circle, the USS Indianapolis Memorial, Indianapolis War Memorial Plaza, and the numerous other monuments around the city. At Monument Circle, we learned that the original purpose of the circle was to house the Governor, which never actually ended up happening. At each monument we took a moment and stopped to explore the history and to let the kids walk around and sightsee.

Week Without Walls - Jack Cunningham

It was great to be able to stop at Freewheelin’ Community Bikes Headquarters to educate the scholars on their Earn-A-Bike program!

As we made our way back towards Shortridge High School, we came across two more stops. One being the Indiana Pacers Bike Share program and the other Freewheelin Community Bikes. The Bike Share folks filled us in on the background and upkeep of the bike share program and also gave us more of an understanding of the Cultural Trail and how unique it really is to the city of Indianapolis. Freewheelin shared with us there Earn-A-Bike program for the kids, where they earn a bike by working on it and how to get involved with that program. Since Freewheelin is so close to Shortridge, it offers a great chance for the kids to earn a bike and be a part of this community program. After that it was time to head back to Shortridge High School and by point we were all ready to rest our legs. The ride lasted around 17 miles and took us from around 10:30-3 in the afternoon. Overall, I think this was a great educational and active afternoon for not only the kids but for me as well, hopefully this will encourage them to utilize the Cultural Trail as it develops for years to come.