Troy Pilot Club takes message to streets

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

About 90,000 children a year suffer traumatic brain injuries.

Most of these injuries could have been prevented if the children had been wearing helmets.

That’s the message that the Troy Pilot Clubs is dedicated to conveying to the children of Pike County.

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Brain awareness is the primary focus of the Troy Pilot Club’s programming.

Each year, the club members go into the schools – city, county and private – with its Brain Minders program.

“We teach the children to ‘Play Safe and Play Smart,” said Mary Wadowick, chair of the club’s child safety program.

“We teach kindergarten students basic safety skills. Then, we see them again as second graders and talk to them about brain awareness. We tell them how to keep their brains safe around the pool, on boats and while riding in cars and on horses. We also talk to them about gun safety. We want them not to do ridiculous things where they could get their heads banged around.”

On May 2, the Pilot Club took its brain safety message to the streets.

At the request of the Troy Pilot Club, Michael O’Hara and Ben Crawley of the Troy Police Department conducted a bicycle safety clinic for the Littles of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Troy.

“We have offered the bike clinic before and decided that it would be a good idea to do it again,” Wadowick said.

“Officer Ken Andress is a member of the Big Brothers Big Sister board and he was instrumental in our getting involved again.”

The bike clinic was conducted at the Troy Sportsplex and “Littles,” kindergarten through fifth grade, were invited to attend.

The purpose of the bicycle clinic was to teach the children bicycle safety, especially, as it relates to keeping one’s brain safe.

“At the beginning of the clinic, the officers taught the children about the different parts of a bicycles and how to take care of their bikes,” Wadowick said.

“The Pilot Club provided a pizza lunch for the children and adults and, after lunch, the children participated in the bicycle clinic where they were taught to give turn signals and stop quickly but safely.”

Their biking skills were tested for speed and agility on the obstacle course the officers had designed.

“Each of the Littles who completed the course received a bicycle driver’s license, showing that they know bicycle safety and the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike,” Wadowick said.

“We had 15 children who completed the clinic and each child received a bicycle helmet.”

Wadowick expressed appreciation to O’Hara and Crawley for conducting the clinic and to Melinda Conner, Bigs activities director, for their participation in the clinic.

“Although the children participated in the clinic and know the safety rules, it’s still important for parents to make sure that their children ride safely and that means riding bicycles, skateboards or skates with a helmet,” Wadowick said. “We remind our children to brush their teeth, say their prayers and it’s most important that they ride safely and that’s with a helmet. They need to be reminded of that, too.”

Conner said the Littles really enjoyed the clinic and learned a lot about bicycle safety.

“The Pilot Club offered this opportunity to our Littles and we really appreciate it and the Troy police officers who conducted the clinic for us,” Conner said.

“We want our Littles to know how to protect themselves against brain injury. Our Bigs talk with them about what they need to do to keep safe. They always encourage our Littles to wear helmets when they ride. But having police officers talk to them about bicycle safety made a real impression on them.”