Safety fair promotes bike, fire safety with free helmets

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 4, 2018

 Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Winter does a bike inspection for Tyler Noteboom, 7, of Shelby Township, during the 30th annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo & Family Safety Fair June 3 at Whispering Woods Park in Shelby Township.

Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Winter does a bike inspection for Tyler Noteboom, 7, of Shelby Township, during the 30th annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo & Family Safety Fair June 3 at Whispering Woods Park in Shelby Township.

Photo by Donna Agusti

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Safety was the name of the game June 3 at Whispering Woods Park in Shelby Township, as the Kiwanis Club of Utica-Shelby Township brought the community together to focus on family safety.

The 30th annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo & Family Safety Fair aimed to keep kids safe in a variety of situations. The biggest aspect was bike safety, with the Kiwanis Club giving away free bike helmets to around 300 kids.

Kiwanis Club board member Michael Crank, who helped organize the event, said the bike rodeo is the one truly free event the club hosts each year, as it hopes to educate and unite the community.

That involved teaching self-defense as well as having the Shelby Township Police and Fire departments on hand for further discussion with families.

“We ask for nothing in return, but we design this to bring the community out to learn about safety,” Crank said. “Initially, it started about giving out free bike helmets, but we have expanded on it with the Police and Fire (departments) speaking about safety and giving information on safety eyewear.”

Crank said they are able to keep the event free by having partnerships with local businesses that provide food and services, while the Shelby Township Department of Parks, Recreation and Maintenance opens the park to the club and patrons.

No matter your age, Crank said, being safe when riding a bike is important — especially protecting your head.

“For myself, as a teenager, bike helmets were not the coolest, but you shouldn’t worry about being the coolest,” Crank said. “This is about awareness and that bike helmets can save lives. It is so easy to fall off and hurt yourself. This is a simple way to raise that awareness and possibly save a life or serious injury.”

The event also included a bike-decorating contest and a bounce house, as well as a bike raffle. Crank said that in the past, he has had a partnership to get the bike helmets and prizes, but he is in need of a new partnership for future years.

A self-defense class was held in the afternoon by DLux Karate, based in Shelby Township.

“There is a lot of stress on stranger danger now, so if someone tries to grab your kids out there, we want our kids to know how to protect themselves,” Crank said.

Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski said his department is happy to have a presence at the fair each year to teach fire safety to the kids, as well as interact with the younger residents. The Fire Department brings fire safety materials, an ambulance and the smoke house.

Educating about helmet safety is important, Swinkowski said, but the firefighters also benefit by having the kids take home some of what they learned to their families.

“We love targeting youth because the kids are gung-ho on fire safety and they take that back home,” Swinkowski said. “They are proud to show Mom and Dad what they learned and to remind them to look at their batteries or other fire safety measures.”

Crank added that having fire and police personnel is important, as they are the leaders in safety in the community.

“They represent safety in the community and are experts in keeping our neighborhoods safe,” he said. “They are gatekeepers when it comes to safety, and my biggest thing is bringing the community together with people from different professions and areas.”