BikeWalk BG, WKU CHHS offers chances for a healthy lifestyle

This story was originally published in the April 8 newsmagazine.
Participant Kyle Marklin congratulates his sons, six-year-old participant Lucas Marklin (left) and nine-year-old participant Samuel Marklin (right) after completing a 10-mile bike ride at BikeWalk BG’s St. Patrick’s “Community Bike Ride” event on March 16.
Participant Kyle Marklin congratulates his sons, six-year-old participant Lucas Marklin (left) and nine-year-old participant Samuel Marklin (right) after completing a 10-mile bike ride at BikeWalk BG’s St. Patrick’s “Community Bike Ride” event on March 16.
Ali Costellow

Bowling Green citizens struggling to balance work, home and a healthy lifestyle will find they have the opportunity to do so, thanks to resources created by other members of the community, who have experienced the same dilemma.

When BikeWalk BG was founded in 2018, Lead Coordinator Karissa Lemon was looking to create a program where people could come together, participate in fitness-based activities and get educated on safely practicing healthy lifestyles. To execute her objective, Lemon relied on a strict set of guidelines that would consistently reinforce
her focus.

“There are four main pillars of BikeWalk BG. We have education, which is just teaching bicycle and pedestrian safety and skills,” Lemon said. “We choose to use advocacy to represent the community of our citizens. Outreach is the use of community events, while planning is used to work with partner agencies to build more trails for safe biking and walking paths.”
Before BikeWalk BG, there was the Greenways Commission, whose original goal was to plan and build trails across Bowling Green. In the mid 2010’s, the commission lost track of its initial vision in the community and passed all the coordination of activities to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

MPO is an organization that creates policies, regulates and funds all federal transportation plans in different regions. With the help of MPO, BikeWalk BG was formed as an effort to bring outreach and education for pedestrian and bicycle transportation.
Funding comes from the MPO’s Paula Nye Memorial Grant Foundation. These funds are accumulated by anyone who purchases a “Share The Road” license plate for their vehicles in the state of Kentucky. The money used to purchase these license plates is redirected towards the grant given to communities who apply for the fund to promote bicycle and pedestrian transportation

BikeWalk BG staffing comes from the City-County Planning Commission of Bowling Green, as well as other smaller partners such as Warren County Parks and Recreation. BikeWalk BG does various bike ride events throughout the year to bring the community together.

“These aren’t bike rides for serious riders,” Lemon said. “We aren’t looking to break records but we want the community to enjoy an experience together by getting out on a bike and exploring Bowling Green. We’ve had anywhere from six-year-olds to sixty-year-olds attend our events. We hope that these events can change the culture around cycling and help people feel more encouraged to ride their bikes and build confidence while doing so.”

The most recent event the organization held was its St. Patrick’s Community Bike Ride on March 16, where cyclists met at the White Squirrel Brewery to embark on a 10-mile trip and were invited to a post-celebration that included a food truck and live band.

WKU fine arts professor Jason Harbison, who participated in the event, said there was a sense of community that couldn’t be ignored during the trip.

“In my small time participating with BikeWalk BG, I can already tell there’s a strong sense of community,” Harbison
said. “The old adage of ‘all walks of life’ and the diverse backgrounds of people that I met prove that it’s very rich in those aspects.”

He also noted that the companionship during the ride was very crucial in helping him complete the 10-mile

“Not only has getting out to ride my bike helped me in a physical standpoint, it’s also helped increase my mental wellness,” Harbison said. “The camaraderie and the scenery help immensely.”

Kyle Marklin, a Bowling Green resident and event participant, brought his 9- and 6-year-old sons who sported
Spider-Man and mohawk helmets for the ride.

“I’m always glad when I get the chance to mount up and get the wheels turning again,” Marklin said. “10 miles
is a long ride for little ones, but it’s also cool that there is a good mix of seasoned riders as well as newbies.”

Meets for the organization take a lot of planning and coordinating, as oftentimes BikeWalk BG partners with local businesses and other allies to give their events more exposure and activities.

Rowan Brown, a WKU alum, has worked as an intern for BikeWalk BG since May 2023 and contributes to the planning of each event in various ways.

“My work is pretty varied. I prepare for and attend events like community rides, bike rodeos, and booths at large events. I do trail inventories of the greenways to check for maintenance and map trail inspections as well as help manage the social media,” Brown
said. “Currently, our bike-ed in schools program is a big focus. I helped write the curriculum and go to the schools to teach it.”

When asked about the future of the organization, they noted an interest in the development of Bowling Green’s
“I would like to see the greenways become a connected network instead of disconnected segments,” Brown said. BikeWalk BG also allows groups to participate in their Adopt-A-Trail Program.

“Organizations, non-profits, fraternities and sororities can all adopt a trail for free. We enter an agreement with these groups to provide support in cleaning and maintaining our trails at least four times a year,” Lemon said.


At WKU, community members have also seen initiatives put in place to promote healthy lifestyles in the community. The College of Health and Human Services has recently directed this toward their students, faculty and staff.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, head staff at CHHS noticed a trend of struggles for students when coming back to in-person classes. Because of this, Tania Basta, dean of the CHHS, began developing two programs that would increase their quality of life from both a physical and mental standpoint.

For students, Basta and fellow contributors created the CHHS Student Wellness Experience, which was employed in the form of a one-credit hour class for the first year class of 2026 to learn the 10 dimensions of wellness, a model that charts the basic needs of each individual and community to reach full potential. The class is taught by CHHS Student Wellness Navigators Amy Wininger and Marsha Hopper, who not only taught the course to students, but could meet with them individually to keep up with distinct issues and refer them to the appropriate resources.

After a year of implementing the Student Wellness Experience, Basta realized scholars weren’t the only ones struggling with the transition back to traditional schooling.

“It hit me in summer 2022 that faculty and staff were struggling as much as, if not more than, our students. We needed to do something to help them take care of themselves as well. So, we created the CHHS Faculty and Staff Wellness Hour,” Basta wrote in a freelance article for “The Academic

The wellness hour is a paid hour each day, in addition to lunch, that allows every faculty and staff member to participate in an activity that correlates to any of the 10 dimensions of wellness.

Grace Lartey, public health professor and coordinator of the department, likes to spend her hour with fellow staff.

“Sometimes we go out walking on campus for an hour,” Lartey said. “Other times we engage in painting. It’s beneficial to get away from the office for physical health as well as giving our minds a break from work.”

Lartey said the wellness hour benefits everyone on the job, not only her.
“A sound mind is in a sound body,” Lartey said.

“The wellness hour is dedicated for staff to take care of themselves. I can’t tell you how much support our staff and faculty provide to us, and I can’t function without them. If they aren’t well enough, my students and I will suffer.”

Since the implementation of both programs, CHHS has found success in the moods and production of students and staff alike. Basta voiced that one student from the 2022-23 academic year made great strides in just a semester difference.

“Last spring, one student wasn’t turning in assignments and was being bullied by her roommate. Her professor referred her anonymously to one of our [wellness] navigators. After meeting with the navigator, the student was able to move to a different dorm and learn better time-management skills,” Basta said to the Herald. “She made all A’s last semester, was on the president’s list and returned to campus this fall.”

For faculty and staff, Basta found that those who participated in the wellness hour reported they were more likely to
continue working within the college.

“We’re trying to prioritize the right thing to do,” Basta said. “When you’re in the College of Health and Human
Services, we want everybody to feel welcome, know that they belong and feel that they’re able to take care of themselves.”

News Reporter Larkin Ivory can be reached at [email protected].