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“I’ve never had a bike in my whole life!”

30-May-2017

As this 6 year old girl was waiting for her turn to unlock and lock up a bike as quickly as possible, she couldn’t help but stare at her new pink bike, which was leaning against a wall on the other side of Hall A. “I’m so excited! I want it now!”

 

She is just one of 70 children who received a new bicycle with accessories like a bell, helmet, and a lock for the 2017 Bike Safety Festival on Saturday, May 27, 2017.

 

At 9:00 a.m. groups of children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Edmonton filed into Northlands’ Hall A. They were each fitted with a new helmet before they could run towards the wall of bicycles, where they would be sized for their own bike.

 

Recruits stepped in to teach some of the children how to ride a bicycle, as other children rode around, ecstatic with their new possession. Then the group was gathered up to watch a special demonstration from A/Sgt. Ryan Busby and PSD Jagger. A/Sgt. Busby began by seeing how much these children know about police service dogs.

 

“Why do police use dogs?”

“Because we don’t have enough police officers!”

 

“What do dogs have that we don’t?”

“Teeth!”

 

After the question period, PSD Jagger came out to show his obedience training and one of the children even got to play tug-o-war with him. Our red and blue lights were turned on and the children were able to check out a Canine vehicle before their bike safety day truly started.

 

The events were educational, fun, and active. Children were taught brain safety, how to properly lock up a bicycle and also had their faces painted with our recruits; that was all on top of Northeast Division BEATS members teaching them safe bike riding skills.

 

“The event fostered and strengthened relationships between the EPS and the community,” Northeast BEATS Sgt. Cory Huculak assured. “We have been a part of this event since the beginning. We volunteer our Saturday to build these relationships and have fun with these kids. It’s worth it.”

 

This was event started in 2010 by Detective Patricia Dvorak when she was a member of Northeast BEATS. Sports Central has also been donating bicycles to this event, “since the word go”, as stated by Jim Harvey of Sports Central. The Bike Safety Festival has grown substantially over the years and its current partners include: AMA, Northlands, Boys & Girls Clubs of Edmonton, Sport Central, Alberta Government, Brain Injury Society as well as the Optimist Club of Edmonton.

 

Each year the group of volunteers and partners strive to achieve and maintain their three core goals:

 

a) Creating positive interactions between front-line police officers and at-risk youth.

b) Providing each child with the knowledge and skills to stay safe on their bicycles.

c) Empowering children with the responsibility of owning a bike and discovering the mobility that is too often taken for granted.

 

“Though no longer in BEATS, I continue to run the Bike Safety Festival as it is clearly a worthwhile cause that positively builds relationships in the community,” Det. Dvorak expressed. “The Bike Safety Festival continues to encapsulate the EPS core values of Community, Respect and Innovation.”

 

This event is a success thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to make this day special. Thank you to each of the partners, our Northeast Division BEATS, Recruit class #140, A/Sgt. Busby and PSD Jagger, and especially to Det. Patricia Dvorak for continuing this event throughout the years.