By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsMay 12, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Brody Christensen, 11, adjusted his helmet and climbed on his bicycle studying the obstacle course in front of him. With a picture of a tricycle emblazoned on his blue T-shirt and the words, "chicks dig my ride" written underneath, Christensen was ready for the bike rodeo.
Bicyclists of all ages gathered at the Porter Community Center, May 2, for an opportunity to test their abilities through an array of obstacle courses and learn about safe cycling.
Christensen maneuvered through the orange cones with ease and rested his bike at the end of the course.
"I ride my bike a lot, so this course wasn't too hard," said Christensen. "But, I still have a lot to learn about bikes and bike safety."
The participants started off the day by registering their bicycles with the Military Police (MP).
"It's important to register your property to ensure a safe return if we retrieve the lost or stolen item," said Miles Sharrock, deputy provost marshal, Schofield Barracks.
Soldiers from the 13th MP Battalion performed a safety check on all bicycles and accompanying gear, adjusting petals, airing tires and properly fitting helmets. Riding techniques and responsibilities, including the proper way to cross an intersection and riding with traffic, were also offered.
"This gives the children a sense of responsibility," said Sgt. Jessed Kurtz, 19th MP Bn. "They learn about safety and hopefully will spread what they have learned to other kids in the neighborhood."
Obstacle courses were set up to test agility and balance. Keiki rode their bikes through the obstacles, narrowly missing orange cones to complete the course. After completion, each child received a ribbon of achievement.
"Bike riding is new to him," said family member Josephine Maltsberger of son Aidan, 3. "He is learning basic rules today and can look up to authoritative figures for help.
"He's learning a lot at an age where it will sink in and stick with him," added Maltsberger.
The Federal Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, and members of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program were also on hand to quiz young riders on the rules of the road and safety.
Courtney East spun the "wheel of safety" stopping on the question "Who do you call in case of an emergency'"
The 10-year-old wrinkled her forehead and promptly answered, "Dial 9 11."
A round of applause surrounded East as she was awarded a prize for the correct answer.
"It's important for young kids to be exposed to safety precautions and have a basic understanding of how to handle situations," said Sharrock. "Learning how to keep out of harm's way now will aid them in the future."
"If we do even one thing today to keep a child safe, then it is all worthwhile," said Sharrock.
Other games, including a three-legged race and an inflatable bounce house, kept family members entertained throughout the day.
A special appearance by McGruff, the Crime Dog, was a crowd favorite. Little ones danced along as McGruff sang songs of safety, including his most popular tune, "Don't do Drugs."
"I've been waiting all day to see him," whispered 4-year-old Madison Wong.
The Directorate of Emergency Services and the 13th MP Bn. supported the bike rodeo.
To register your family's bicycles, call the Military Police at 808-655-9657.