Teaching bicycle safety has the potential to be a somewhat boring subject, but not in La Habra.
The La Habra Police Department took a fun approach to get middle school students not only willing to strap on their helmets every day, but excited to do so.
The department partnered with high-energy BMX Team Soil at two middle schools this week to put on a demonstration that highlighted bicycle and helmet safety.
“This is so much better than having an officer stand up there lecturing about bike safety,” said La Habra Sgt. Jim Tigner. “The kids come out here and see these professional riders doing all these cool tricks, wearing their helmets and wearing them properly.”
The BMX team and La Habra PD took the show to Washington Middle School on Tuesday and Imperial Middle School on Thursday.
“We like to do these courses at local middle schools because these students are at such an impressionable age, and many of them ride their bikes to school every day,” Tigner said.
School Resource Officer Jason Sanchez brought the idea of bringing Team Soil to La Habra, after seeing their show in Costa Mesa, but it was grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety, that allowed the department to finance the shows at both schools, as well as the bicycle helmets given out on each campus.
The Newport Beach-based team — which on Thursday featured pro BMX riders Joey Cordova, Christopher Hughes and Nathan Sykes — reinforces positive messaging from anti-bullying to encouraging self-acceptance.
Ryan Brennan, creator of Team Soil and emcee at the event, not only hit on bicycle safety by having a rider demonstrate the proper way to wear a helmet, he also stressed the importance of leadership, positive decision making and performing well in school.
“We talk about how it’s cool to be different and we talk about the subjects these kids are studying in school, like how it takes math and geometry to build these ramps,” Brennan said.
The team handed out T-shirts and 10 bicycle helmets signed by the BMX professionals to the loudest kids in the group, which was made of up Principal’s List and Honor Roll students.
The riders flipped and tricked through the course laid out on the blacktop of Imperial Middle School, and the children cheered.
The middle schoolers yelled loudest when Cordova back-flipped over LHPD Motor Officer Tam Do, easily clearing the officer by several feet.
The show was entertaining, but more importantly, the students were engaged and the message was received.
“I was really excited to see them do all of these tricks,” said eighth grader Evelyn Gort. “Most kids don’t want to wear their helmets, so this is a good way to teach bicycle safety because they’re all professionals and they’re all wearing their helmets.”