ANSON — When Irene Fortier, the director of a local after-school program, heard about a group of professional BMX bike riders who travel to elementary schools as part of an anti-bullying campaign, she thought it would be the perfect program to bring to the Anson and North Anson After School Program.

She had no idea that the group, a recently founded nonprofit called Action Through Action Sports, was based in Sacramento, Calif., and called them to see if they would come to the Garret Schenck Elementary School.

The group said yes and on Thursday made its first ever trip to the East Coast — at no cost to the school — where they were welcomed by about 60 students laughing, cheering and jumping up and down to participate in their performance.

“OK, I want the loudest and craziest volunteers out there,” said Robin “Rambo” Davis, a professional rider and X-games athlete, at the start of the program, which opened with a “dance battle” among four students.

The group focuses on visiting schools that the federal government has determined have a high percentage of low-income students or are located in low-income areas, schools such as Garret Schenck, where about 65 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the Maine Department of Education.

Their message is to show respect, make healthy choices such as wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, and not bully others.

“We use the bikes as an attention grabber for the message,” Davis said after the show. “That’s really all it is. There are a lot of people in our sport who aren’t reputable and don’t make good choices, but we want to change that image and bring a positive message to kids.”

During the performance, Davis and another athlete, Dylan Worsley, asked the students questions about what it means to show respect and make healthy choices. In exchange for participating in the conversation, the students got to watch the two bikers do tricks on the school basketball court — spinning on one wheel, jumping, riding backward and rotating 360 degrees in the air.

For a grand finale, Davis asked four teachers to lie on the ground. He rode his bicycle in circles around the gymnasium to build up speed, then jumped over all the teachers, earning him a round of applause and eventually several requests for autographs — on backpacks, notebooks, even a Lego piece — from students.

“We want to make sure you guys learn something,” Davis said. “How are you going to treat other people? With respect? And how about bullying? Can we just put an end to that right now?”

“I think it’s good for the kids, and they seemed to have a lot of fun at the same time,” said Fred Andrews, 64, of New Portland, a grandparent who was at the show.

“It was really good. I liked the tricks,” said 10-year-old Brianna Coney, of Anson. “And it’s good not to bully.”

On Friday, Davis and Worsley will perform a similar show at Solon Elementary School. Action Through Action Sports has satellite teams in other states such as Arkansas, Texas and Pennsylvania, but none in Maine. The duo said they would like to come back, with a ramp if possible, to perform other tricks and also are looking to establish a team presence in the Northeast, Davis said.

“It was really motivational,” Fortier said. “I think it’s amazing that they flew all the way from California to come here. Sometimes if a message comes from a fun source, it hits closer to home for kids, and I think this did.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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