Portsmouth’s Connex is ready to highlight bicycling safety for children and families once again this year, with their annual event in Mound Park known as Safety Town.
“This is an annual event that allows us to really promote cycling and healthy habits and activities in the community, especially for kids at a young age to get them involved in being outside and being active in a safe way,” Connex’s Dr. Logan Minter explained. “We provide training and helmets and do safety checks on their bikes to make sure they are operating properly.”
Outside of Covid impacted years, the event has been ongoing since its inception in 2017. It began as an addition to the locally famous St. Mary’s International Festival and quickly outgrew the space to become its own event in Mound Park, where Connex has had a massive development impact, alongside the Scioto Foundation since.
“Mound Park is such a central location and has many activity paths to utilize,” Minter said. “It is a great place for kids to get out and try their skills. Also, being in the city, there are a lot of kids we can reach out to, because of it being such an urban area.”
The group also has a loaner fleet of bicycles for kids to ride through the safety obstacle course to learn from the Connex riders, should they want to participate but don’t have a bicycle.
“We have many in our loaner fleet that we’ve purchased through grants or have been donated to us that we’ve repaired,” Minter commented. “Kids usually bring their own bikes, and we do a check on them, though. We also provide small parts and repairs if we have them.”
The helmets the group offers stay with the kids, however, thanks to support from their partner, the Ohio Pediatric Associates, through their Put a Lid on It campaign.
“I think this activity has several benefits. For one, as mentioned, it builds safety habits at a young age, but it also reaches out in a broader manner to the community to let them know events like this are out there,” Minter said. “We get a lot of people who come to the event with their kids who want to try it, but they end up participating, too, so we get the whole family involved.”
Minter explained that Portsmouth Police and the Ohio State Patrol will also be there to discuss safety, which is another great addition to the event.
“It is a great way to introduce children to the police offers at an early age that gives them a positive interaction with law enforcement officials,” Minter said.
Minter is a major Connex supporter and volunteer and says he works hard to advocate for their mission, because of the many benefits that come from their activities, especially bicycling.
“There are physical health aspects we immediately think about when it comes to cycling— those of cardiovascular nature— but it is also very impactful when you look at mental and psychological benefits from just being outdoors and enjoying yourself as well,” Minter explained. “In a lot of areas, it is a very big part of their tourism and recreational community, and we are trying to build on that as well in Portsmouth, because it has so many beneficial ripple effects for the economy and community as a whole. Finally, it is an alternative form of transportation that has environmental benefits as well. We see a lot of positive impacts from bicycling.”
The Safety Town event is only one of dozens of events offered throughout the year by the organization to get people active in the community through bicycling, paddling, walking, hiking, and more. In the coming months, they have many events scheduled, weekly Tour de Portsmouth rides, the monstrous Wild Ride event in Shawnee State Park, the full moon kayak floats, and more. Follow them on Facebook for more information on their events.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved