Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bicycle Safety Rodeo.....Returns!

The “Bicycle Safety Rodeo and Child Safety Seat Inspection” returns as part of “May is National Bike Month.” The first rodeo was held in 1995 through the collaboration of the Martinsville Police Department and Chip Wyatt, State Farm Insurance Company. This year, Activate Martinsville Henry County (Activate), Henry County Parks and Recreation, Martinsville Leisure Services, Martinsville Police Department, and several State Farm Insurance Companies (Chip Wyatt, Jason Dove, and Kelly Witt) will host the event. “Over the years the rodeo has turned into an event that kids love to participate in. In past years, there have been over 150 kids participating in the event and many look forward to returning to see how they have improved over the year.” said Chip Wyatt, with State Farm Insurance.

The rodeo will be held Saturday, May 9th at Liberty Fair Mall Parking Lot on Commonwealth Blvd. There will be two sessions, 9:00-10:30 a.m. and 11:00-12:30 p.m. The rodeo consists of eight courses starting with a bike inspection station; mounting and dismounting; circling and changing direction; straight line control; weaving and maneuvering; stopping ability; short radius turning; and slow speed control. “Data has shown that many local children are not wearing helmets so our focus this year is helmet safety. Children will receive literature on helmet safety and local trainers certified in Bike Smart Basics, a curriculum created by the Virginia Department of Education, Health, Motor Vehicles and BikeWalk Virginia, will teach children how to properly fit their helmets,” according to Jeannie Frisco, Program Manager for Activate.

After kids complete the eight-course rodeo they can enjoy decorating and personalizing their helmet at the “sticker art” table. Kids will then have a chance to proudly display their helmet while they ride their bike and practice their new skills in the rodeo’s riding rink. Registered participants will also receive a goodie bag, a free meal coupon to Chick-Fil-A, a bicycle license with their picture and a certificate. Registered participants will also take part in a drawing where they could win a Nintendo Wii game system or a bike. Two bikes and a Wii will be raffled off at each session.

Through a Virginia Department of Health Grant, Activate was able to provide bicycle safety helmets for bike rodeo participants. According to Melissa Gravely, Education/Outreach Coordinator for Activate, “We want all children to have and wear their safety helmets. We are asking those children that have helmets to bring them to the rodeo. If their helmet is safe, in good shape and fits properly they will receive a free skating pass to the Roll-A-Bout Skating Center instead of receiving a new helmet. If a child’s helmet is unsafe, in bad shape, does not fit or if a child does not have a helmet, they will receive a new one while supplies last.”

To help parents better protect their children, State Farm is sponsoring a Child Safety Seat Inspection. While kids are busy with the rodeo, parents will be able to get a free car seat inspection from a certified seat inspector. With the new booster seat laws in effect, this is a good opportunity for parents.

Activate, which is funded through The Harvest Foundation, has a mission to make Martinsville and Henry County a more fun, healthy and desirable place to live by promoting walking, biking and increased physical activity as a part of everyday life. For more information on biking activities, contact Activate at 638-2523 x204 or 331.

For more information or if you would like to volunteer for this event, please contact Tara Martin at 276-638-2523 x314 or email at

Article contributed by Jeannie Frisco
Edited/Posted by Vicky Thomas

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