By Corporal Brian Schnell….
“Way better than last year!” was the exclamation repeated by the event coordinator, Ms. Sandra Block, who could not stop praising the staff from the city who helped her with this successful event. From Sergeant Athanasiou and Corporal Ostrov inspecting and repairing bicycles, to Sergeant Randazzo overseeing the obstacle course, they all worked hard to make this possible. Ms. Block, a Crime Prevention Specialist for the Police Department, and avid cyclist, brought the idea of a “Bike Rodeo” to the city in 2010. The 2010 event was so well received, that ideas for the 2011 event began sprouting almost immediately. “I got more ideas this year to add next year too.” said an obviously delighted Block.
The 2011 Bike Rodeo taught youth the importance of bike safety in a fun, interactive manner. “These kids are having fun, and probably don’t even realize they are learning a lot.” said Block. “Having fun while learning, now that’s a ‘win-win’ situation.” she added. The event began with registration, and a team of civilian personnel and sworn police officers check each participants bicycle to ensure each was in good, working condition. Then the group went into the first floor training room for a video presentation and a welcome message from Chief Maas. At the conclusion of the indoor portion, Ms. Block used raw eggs to illustrate what could occur if a child fell off a bicycle without wearing a helmet. One of the children in attendance volunteered and dropped the egg into an unpadded cardboard box, and naturally it smashed. After a brief gasp form the children in attendance, she demonstrated the same scenario with a helmet on. She made a small helmet out of bubble wrap to simulate a real helmet, and then she dropped the egg. It worked! The egg survived, and the children applauded. The exercise sounds simple, but I assure you the kids got the message.
From the classroom, the kids entered the obstacle course. The volunteers that worked that day deserve a lot of credit. They made an outstanding obstacle course, complete with lines on the pavement (baseball field chalk) and bumps in the road (halved tennis balls). Then the 25 children in attendance made a single file line and successfully completed the obstacle course. A lot of “Ooohs, Ahhs” and laughter was heard throughout the downstairs parking area. “This is what it’s all about.” said K-9 Corporal Rob Ostrov. “Listen to them, they’re having a blast.” he said. And yes, they did have a blast, and more importantly they learned.
At the event, each child received a new bike helmet, and a raffle prize, which was a wonderful way to conclude a very successful event. Possibly one of the most heartfelt moments of the day was at the conclusion. As I walked by Ms. Block I saw her jotting some notes down on a pad. She smiled and said “This year was great, but next year will be better, I already have a ton of new ideas.” After witnessing the success of this year’s event, there is no doubt that the 2012 event will be even bigger and better. Congratulations to all those who attended this event and had such a fantastic time. If you missed it, be sure to come next year, you will have a great time too!