Jalleace Small doesn’t need training wheels when she rides her bike.
But that doesn’t mean the 7-year-old is too grown up to learn some important bicycle safety tips.
“Today, I learned to always wear a helmet and that this means stop,” she said, holding her left arm at a 90-degree angle with her hand pointing to the ground. “I never knew about the hand signals before, but I’m going to show my friends now that I know them.”
Small is one of the 22 students in Cara Feeny’s first-grade class who received a bike safety lesson last week from Officer Dawn Misino, the crime prevention officer at the Middletown Police Department.
Misino returned to MOT Charter School again this week to provide additional bike safety lessons for other first- and second-grade classes.
“Riding bikes is a great activity for kids, especially as the weather gets warmer,” Misino said. “That’s why it is so important that they get an education in bicycle safety and know the ABCs: air, brakes and chains.”
Misino also explained to the students bicycle safety begins before their feet hit the pedals.
“First, you want to check the tires to be sure they have air,” she said, pointing to the department-issued mountain bike she brought with her and then a worksheet that she handed out to the students. “Then you want to check the brakes to be sure they work. And, finally, does the chain have oil and will it move when you turn the pedals?”
She also instructed the students to be on the lookout for vehicles, stop for stop signs and always wear protective gear, including knee pads, helmets and elbow pads.
Misino also answered some of the first-graders burning questions.
“Do you arrest people,” Justin Walker asked.
“Yes, sometimes we have to arrest people,” Misino said. “But what police officers really do is protect you, your family and your property. Police officers are your friends.”
Elyse Cerezo related how the burglar alarm at her house sounded a few days ago, and her nanny couldn’t remember the code to turn it off.
“I was scared the police were going to come,” she said.
Misino told the 7-year-old that she never needs to be afraid of the police.
“We would just come to be sure you’re ok,” she said.
Autumn Dixon, meanwhile, wanted to know why Misino had brought a gun into her school.
Page 2 of 2 - “That’s a great question,” Misino said. “Whenever I wear my police uniform, I have to have all of my police equipment. I’m a trained officer, and if there is a problem I will protect you, but otherwise, I would never take it out in school.”
Feeny said she thinks Misino’s visits made a positive impression on the students at the charter school.
“I think it’s always good for them to get a reminder about bicycle safety, especially at this age, when some of them are just learning ride their bikes,” she said. “A lot of these kids also have never met a real police officer before, so it’s great for them to learn that the police are their friends and nothing to be afraid of.”