Sunday, April 18, 2021

Local Youth Organize Bicycle Safety Event for Newcomers

Pandemic restrictions have made it difficult for the Owen Sound Police Service to teach community members about bicycle safety in traditional ways. Community Services Officer Jason Cranny has had to get creative, including working with Rogers TV last summer to produce a Bicycle Safety video involving local youth.

In January, Cranny partnered with Katie Holovaci, Advisor for the Owen Sound and District Junior Optimist Club, to pursue a youth-led grant opportunity offered by the Grey Bruce Youth Engagement Network and Ledge Leadership. This grant was made possible by the RBC Foundation and Community Foundation Grey Bruce.

They were grateful to receive enough funds to not only put on a bicycle safety program but also to provide some helmets, reflectors, and used bicycles to newcomer children who needed them. The generosity and expertise of local business owner Brandon Bragg of Scenic Cycle has allowed the grant money to be stretched much further, reaching numerous children. Donna Jansen, member of the Alliance Church, has been an integral connection to newcomer families, including one 17-year-old who became a valued member of the youth-led planning committee.

The young planners of this event, aged 15-18, gained leadership skills and a greater appreciation for our diverse community throughout the process. Grey County generously provided a large open space to conduct the first event on March 20, in a COVID-safe environment, with a small group of eight young people and three parents.

The group is now working on providing bicycles, helmets, and safety information to any newcomer children who wish to ride a bike. The hope is to ensure all newcomer families are given access to the program by the end of the summer.

A bicycle safety program for the larger community will be provided in an outdoor space later in the summer, considering all pandemic precautions. In the meantime, one of the youth created a great bicycle safety pamphlet that parents can access by contacting Jason Cranny, 519 376-1234, ext. 569.

Anyone with gently used youth or children’s bicycles to donate to this great cause can contact Katie Holovaci at owensoundjoi@gmail.com.

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