CHESTER — Children lined up to get fitted with bicycle helmets and bikes in the car park of Subaru on Park on Saturday before trying out their skills amidst plastic cones.
Organized by Youth Development United and Chester Upland Youth Soccer, the bike rodeo also featured riding lessons, bike safety and a “friendship” lunch with participants and volunteers from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, from the Swarthmore Recreation Association, Widener University and others.
“Youth Development United aims to provide inspiring experiences,” said Jeannine Fallon Anckaitis, Executive Director of Youth Development.
Of the bike rodeo and the bike giveaway, Fallon Anckaitis said, “What we see is that kids gain so much self-esteem when they learn to do something a little difficult and it’s exercise, it’s fresh air, it’s transportation, it’s green and we want families to be able to ride together so they all enjoy it.
Youth Development United is an organization that offers a list of activities for children in underserved communities, including bowling, museum visits, football, homework help and a bike rodeo. Chester Upland Youth Soccer is a facet of Youth Development United.
Fallon Anckaitis said 40 bikes were given out in a raffle on Saturday to families who were eligible for free or reduced school lunches.
“The hope is that over time we can accommodate every family that wants to win a bike today,” she said. “We just need to get more donations. The goal today was to give bikes not only to children but also to all parents who would like to ride a bike.
She noted the table full of books from the Kara Barnard Youth Literacy Fund, which allowed all children to take as many books as they wanted. “Everyone goes home with something,” Fallon Anckaitis said.
Nafeesa Johnson watched as her 7-year-old son, Jamil, had the seat of his Tony Hawk bike adjusted to the perfect height.
She said she loved the event, especially for the education and socializing opportunities.
“It teaches my son. He has autism, so it really helps him socialize and learn to ride,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know everything about the seat, how to measure, what kind of bike he needed.”
Astride the neon green Tony Hawk, Jamil said the bike was good. When asked what he liked about it, he pointed to the flashy color and said, “I like it.”
Among the volunteers at the event were eight from Widener University.
“We are health and wellness professionals in rehabilitation between physical therapy and occupational therapy,” said Adrienne Pinckney, program director of Widener University’s department of physical therapy.
She said they had a storage of brand new bike helmets from before the pandemic and were trying to figure out how to get them to the community.
“We look forward to continuing the partnership,” Pinckney said, as she also spoke about the importance of an event that encourages physical activity. “It absolutely prevents injuries and illnesses on the road. It promotes overall, not only physical health and well-being, but also mental health and well-being.
Chester Upland Youth Soccer and Soccer for Success coach Chris Shavers said the event was a great way for the community and program participants to interact.
“Seeing them active always makes me smile,” he said. “I find it more rewarding to know that they’re not just having fun, but learning something.”
Councilman Stefan Roots also welcomed the event.
“Anytime we can provide activities for our youngsters it’s a good day in Chester,” he said. “Bringing people here just to see the beauty. I’m sure a lot of these kids have never been here…especially if they’re not football fans. Using this beautiful space for outdoor recreation warms my heart. »
Chester resident Michelle Stanford-Pyatt brought her great-niece, Mama, to the event in hopes of teaching her how to ride a bike without training wheels.
“These kids, their attentions are short,” she said. “We didn’t have the technology they have.”
When asked what she thought of the event, the girl gave a thumbs up.
Fallon Anckaitis said the plan was to do another rodeo in the spring.
“We’re hoping to do one in the spring because the kids are getting too big for bikes, so there’s always a need for a new bike and there’s always someone willing to pass on a…bike,” he said. she stated. “We want to be in a constant state of moving bikes to communities.”