Safe biking through Kiwanis

Jennifer Morlan | Aug 16, 2019

Child rides a bicycle at the Berlin, New Hampshire, Kiwanis Club safety rodeo.

Every May, children from Berlin, New Hampshire, look through rows and rows of bike helmets. For older kids, there are sleekly designed black, silver and red ones. Younger kiddos can pick helmets covered with pink flowers, bright lightning bolts or animated TV characters. And they are all free to families who attend the Kiwanis Club of Berlin’s Bike Rodeo.  

“The kids are so excited that they get to pick out their own helmets,” said club President Tim Beaulac. “They’ll say ‘Oh, this is for me?’” 

The club has distributed bike helmets for 25 years, but club members were worried they wouldn’t be able to give away as many this year. Two retailers that had donated helmets and money in the past stopped participating.  

Thanks to a grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, the club continued the program, giving away 250 helmets to kids from Berlin, as well as nearby Gorham and Milan.  

“The Children’s Fund really helped us keep the integrity of the program,” Beaulac said. 

In addition to new bike helmets, the kids learn about bike safety, take their bikes for a spin around an obstacle course and interact with Berlin and Gorham police officers.  

Berlin club members also perform bike inspections and routine maintenance. It’s not unusual to see volunteers huddled around tiny bikes with training wheels.

“These guys have great personalities and really enjoy interacting with the kids,” Beaulac said. 

After the rodeo is over, the club gives remaining helmets to the police departments. Officers keep some in their patrol cars in case they spot children riding without helmets.

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