EATON — Hollingsworth East Elementary second graders in Eaton were recent recipients of free bicycle helmets, thanks to local cycling advocacy group Preble Trails, and a grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics “Put A Lid On It!” campaign.
Pam Friesel, East Elementary principal, welcomed Preble Trails on Friday, May 13, for a half-day of fun bicycle safety skits and educational programming from Preble Trails members, Eaton Police Department, and Jalisa Guenther, National Trails high school student, who speaks to local groups about helmet safety after the loss of her nephew to a bicycle accident.
“We hope to expand the giveaway to all Preble County schools,” said Heidi Bortel, chair of Preble Trails. “This is our first year, and we had to make sure we had community and member support to educate the kids properly about helmet safety. We were really encouraged by the support we received from the city, Eaton PD, and obviously, the school system. We all put safety as a high priority where our kids are concerned – and wearing a helmet is the first line of defense to keep all of us safe when biking.”
Mike Sanders and Dan Schmidt, Preble Trails co-chair and members, played “Mr. Perfect Cyclist” and “Mr. Wrong Cyclist” Students had the chance to come up in front of the group and point out the “wrong” things the cyclists did (wearing too small of a helmet, wearing dark colors, shoes untied) and the “right” things (lights on the bike, bright colors, properly fitting helmet, water bottle for hydration). Steve Hurd of Eaton Police Department, talked to the students about bicycle laws, being safe, and riding with friends and family. Guenther followed up with a flyer about helmet safety and told her own personal story, encouraging the children to be safe and smart when riding their bicycles to protect their health and lives.
Special visitors included Mayor David Kirsch and Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech, who assisted in fitting helmets. Preble Trails members include Heidi Bortel, Mike Sanders, Dan Schmidt, Erin Abney, Anna Fomin, Holly Steele, Karla McMahan, and Lisa Senesac. Preble Trails is a subcommitee of the Preble County Youth Foundation established in 2015. The mission of the pro-cycling advocacy group is to support education for safe and fun cycling, to obtain funding for Safe Routes to School (to improve walk and/or bikeways to elementary and middle school in Eaton), improve city infrastructure with signage and bike lanes, and establish family friendly bike paths in Preble County.
To learn more about Preble Trails, visit www.prebletrails.org, or call 937-304-1825. Like ‘Preble Trails’ on Facebook for updates.