Geared for kids: Police reach out via bike clinic
Photo Gallery | North Adams bike safety
NORTH ADAMS — Eleven-year-old Kali Sumner, a fourth grade student at Brayton Elementary School was trying on a bicycle helmet.
Officer David Lemieux was helping her adjust it.
"Does that feel good?" he asked. "Is that okay?"
"Yes," said Kali, adjusting the helmet on her head.
Kali Sumner was the early bird on Saturday morning, getting to the Brayton parking lot before any other student to take part in a bicycle safety course set up by the North Adams Police Department on Saturday morning.
Kali was one of those rare interview subjects who thought carefully about a reporter's questions before answering.
Kali was asked how long she's been riding a bike. She thought.
"Since I was five," she said after a moment.
Was she enjoying the clinic? Kali pondered that one.
"It's fun," she said. "And I'm learning something."
In fact, Kali admitted that one of the reasons she attended the clinic was a chance to learn something.
"Some of my friends don't really like to come to school," she said. "But I told them, 'Why not? You'll learn something."
Brayton principal John Franzoni explained that members of the NAPD gave a brief presentation on bike safety on Friday, which was the first day of school. Saturday's clinic, which talked about the proper way to peddle a bike, the need to wear a helmet and the best way to turn a bike, was more hands-on, he said. In addition, the police gave out free bicycle helmets to those who needed them
"Ultimately, our goal is to bridge the gap between police and the community," said officer Anthony Beverly. "We're trying to let people know that we care," he continued. "And it's not just about law enforcement. If someone in the community is going through a hard time and they need to talk to someone, we want them to know we're available. We want them to be comfortable talking to us."
Brayton science teacher James Holmes credited the police department with coming up with the bike safety idea. Holmes, who has launched similar programs in other schools, said he was approached by North Adams police to commence a bicycle safety program at Brayton on the first day of school. In turn, he said, he spoke with Franzoni, who green-lit the idea.
"It's amazing how quickly a good idea can be turned around if you talk to the right people," he said.
Beverly and Lemieux were volunteering their time on Saturday. They didn't seem to have an issue with that.
"What's an hour out of our day?" shrugged Beverly.
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.
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