GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department is looking to give needy children in Hancock County bicycles to promote health and wellness, but it needs the community’s help to be successful, organizers said.
The parks department is hosting its first bike donation day Saturday and asks community members to donate the bikes they no longer use. Staffer Jeremiah Schroeder said he came up with the idea as a way to promote healthy lifestyles, especially for children, while potentially helping local underprivileged families.
Bikes can be dropped off from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the parks maintenance service building near the Boys and Girls Club of Hancock County on Lincoln Street in Greenfield. Maintenance staff will be on hand to evaluate bikes that are donated. The rides must be in good condition, but the parks department staff will make minor repairs as needed before giving them out to children and families in the spring.
Schroeder said riding bicycles is a great way to be active, but there might be families in the community who aren’t able to afford to buy bikes for their youngsters. Giving kids bikes will open up ways to use the local trail system and get to school while growing their appreciation for fitness, Schroeder said.
“The goal is to just help kids in the community,” he said. “This is a free and easy way for everyone in the community to be involved and do that.”
Ellen Kuker, parks superintendent, said it’s hard to tell whether kids in the community need bikes, but she hopes the event will shed some light on an issue that has not gotten much local attention.
“To get bikes into the hands of kids that potentially can’t afford a bike and introduce them to the parks and maybe even to the Pennsy Trail, that could set them on a lifelong journey of being active,” she said.
Some health issues driven by lack of exercise are already apparent in the county’s youth, experts say.
Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic across the United States, Schroeder pointed out. In Hancock County, about 28 percent of people are obese, according to a study out of Hancock Regional Hospital a few years ago.
Riding a bike is a safe way to get exercise in a way that is friendly to the environment, Schroeder said.
There are many health benefits to children who walk, ride a bike or find other ways to participate in regular physically activity, according to The National Center for Safe Routes to School, an organization that assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school.
Physical activity in youth promotes weight and blood pressure control, bone, muscle and joint health and maintenance, a decreased risk of diabetes, improved psychological well-being and better academic performance, according to the organization.
Schroeder said the parks staff is looking forward to this week’s donation event and hopes to collect as many bikes as needed for children in the community. In the spring, the bikes will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis.
The Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a bike donation day Saturday. Any community members looking to get rid of a bicycle, preferably a child-size bike, may bring it to the parks maintenance building near the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County on Lincoln Street in Greenfield. Staff will be on hand to collect bikes from 9 to 11 a.m.
Bikes need to be in good condition or need minor repairs.