The blog post below was written by Sara Anderson, an AmeriCorps member who has spent the past year working directly with New Britain Families. She was also instrumental with providing support for this event!
In New Britain, one of CHC’s largest clinic sites, childhood obesity is a major concern. A committee formed from many different socially minded organizations called the ACHIEVE collaborative brainstormed ways to get kids more active, bike riding was an obvious choice. They launched the ‘New Britain is Walkin’ and Rollin’ to School’ campaign because in New Britain many kids have bikes, but may nor ride regularly, or may ride but not have helmets. The collaborative bought hundreds of bike helmets and locks, but then they needed an event to distribute them, which is where the AmeriCorps came in.
We planned out a bike safety day for the kids of New Britain in collaboration with Bike New Britain and Parks and Recreation. We asked for donations from area bike shops for bike tune-ups and even received 4 donated bicycles to give away from a ‘Bikes for Kids’ charity. After weeks of preparation on a warm June morning we set up bike obstacle courses, helmet fitting stations, and excellent goodie bags (bike reflector stickers, beach balls, pencils, bike locks, and custom printed drawstring bags). We had two police officers come as our ‘safety experts’ to show the kids the ropes of the obstacle courses and the ABCs of bike safety-Air, Brakes, and Chain. We saw close to 150 3rd through 5th grade kids and gave them all helmets, about a dozen of whom had never ridden a bike before and we were able to help. It was a very successful event, the kids and camp counselors enjoyed their time there and showing off on the trickiest of the obstacle courses. At the end of the day we gave away 5 bikes to kids who didn’t have a bike at home, and helmets to all of them. We hope it is a program that can continue in following years for promoting bike safety in the community!