The writer is Laura Torchio, Mt. Hebron Health & Wellness Parent Liaison, Eat. Play. Live… Better community prevention initiative Program Coordinator, and Bike&Walk Montclair Trustee.
As my first year as Mt. Hebron’s Health & Wellness Parent Liaison got started, I had the pleasure to help host a Cycling Skills Bicycle Rodeo for Mt. Hebron middle school on Thursday, Sept. 26.
I was delighted by the enthusiasm of the ten-or-so students who saddled up eager to learn new skills like the “ABC Quick Check” or a “rock dodge” as well as the rules of the road.
By coaching them to “ride right” and be visible, predictable and courteous, four certified League of American Bicyclists instructors (Paul Mickiewicz and Dickson Lane co-chairs of Bike&Walk Montclair Education Committee and Christopher Rodriguez and Meeta Patel, Meadowlink’s Safe Routes to School Coordinators) equipped these kids with the knowledge and skills that will make them better bicycle “drivers” and keep them safe — all in time for International Walk & Bike to School Day and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day coming up on Oct. 9.
The bike rodeo at Mt. Hebron was one activity that was identified during the Safe Routes to School Workshop held last spring as part of a grant received by the Township in 2009.
If you missed it, both Bike&Walk Montclair and Meadowlink offer school-based assemblies and rodeos year round. In fact, Bike&Walk Montclair is the only bicycle education program in New Jersey with classes nearly every weekend from spring through fall – and registration is open for bike rodeo and family street savvy ride on October 12!
I look at my role as the Health & Wellness Parent Liaison as helping to find the resources to make healthy eating and physical activity easy to access in daily life.
If biking or walking are easy choices to make (whether because we have the skills, our streets are safe, or we’re encouraged because it’s fun), then my hope is that Mt. Hebron middle-schoolers will have more opportunities to gain independence and be healthier. This bike rodeo and next week’s Walk & Bike to School Day are just the beginning.