As the Program Director for Youth Development, Jamie Norgard of the Greater Somerset County YMCA understands the importance of teaching safety skills to children. In 2022 and 2023, RideWise partnered with Jamie to bring bike and pedestrian safety programs to children in its after-school and summer programs at the Somerville and Franklin Township sites. Many of these students walk to school, so it’s imperative they learn how to safely and confidently navigate on two feet or two wheels at a young age.
At the Somerville YMCA, Caty Whalen, RideWise’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Manager, taught bicycle safety to 80 children attending the YMCA’s summer camp in July 2022. Children learned the ABC Quick Check of bike safety: how to check their Air, Brakes, and Cranks, Chain,
and Cogs. Children also learned the rules of riding on the road, the importance of always wearing a helmet, how to signal when turning, and how to watch for drivers. In November 2022, 12 students learned bicycle safetyat the Somerville YMCA as part of a two-day, after-school program.
“RideWise has been presenting fun, interactive learning programs at our school for several years. The presentations give our students the opportunity to play the roles of pedestrians, bike riders, and crossing guards while learning important information about how to actively scan for cars, where to safely cross the street, and how to be a responsible bike rider,” said Jamie. “Our school has looked forward to Caty’s visits and has learned important safety information each lesson.”
In May 2023, students enrolled in Franklin Township’s “Y Without Walls” program participated in Safety Town presentations. The “Y Without Walls” brings YMCA programming directly into the neighborhood after school. Students at Franklin Park, Conerly, Hillcrest, MacAfee and Claremont elementary schools all participated. Safety Town is a hands-on, interactive learning tool where students play the roles of pedestrians, cars, or crossing guards. Through these roles, students learn when and where to safely cross streets, how to avoid distracted walking, and how to actively scan for cars.
The YMCA provides another avenue for RideWise to educate youth on bicycle and pedestrian safety outside of the schools. It’s important they learn these skills when biking or walking for recreation or to get to places without a car.
To learn more about Safety Town, bicycle safety, and Safe Routes to School programming, visit our Safe Routes to School page.