No bike unit for elementary students this year – Pratt Tribune
By Jennifer Stultz Editor
For more than 25 years, the arrival of spring has meant DeWayne Bryan dusted off his bike and headed to Pratt Elementary Schools for the Pratt Health Foundation’s annual Bike Safety Unit. This year, that will not happen.
“I’ve always enjoyed taking bike safety classes with the kids,” Bryan said. “They loved it too. They always called me the Pied Piper. It was a great program, good for the community, but I got older and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to replace to continue.
Every spring, for six to eight weeks, Bryan would travel to local schools two days a week in the afternoon, teaching 3rd and 4th graders about bike safety, then leading them on community rides, putting practice their safety skills. They started with 1 mile runs, eventually hitting the 3 mile goal by the end of the unit.
“I tried for several years to get someone to help me,” Bryan said. “It’s been a big part of my life, hard to pass up on that, but maybe for next year there will be someone who will see the value in it and step in to help.”
Bryan said the bike safety program began with a state Healthy Kids Grant in 1996. The Pratt Health Foundation continued to support the program for the next 25 years as a way to give back to the community. Healthy food demonstrations were also part of the focus on children’s health and fitness.
As part of the bike fitness and safety program, Bryan helped teach local kids the “rules of the road”, how to maintain a bike and how to wear a bike helmet. Since head injuries are often associated with cycling, bicycle helmets were required, often donated by other community groups and supporters, such as the Pratt Pilot Club International.
The camaraderie established between Bryan and his cycling students at these annual spring meetings at Pratt was tangible, with greetings of “Wonderful Mr. Bryan, sir” from the children with the same respect and integrity coming from their professor.
Attendance was high and students who attended 80% of the sessions were included in a raffle for a new bike at both elementary schools. Eventually Strong’s insurance agency sponsored the new bikes used in the design.
All fitness rides had an emergency road service/ambulance car that followed single file riders to help those whose bikes broke down or students who fell during the ride. “Police,” provided by the Pratt Community Corrections Department, were also stationed at busy intersections to monitor traffic and prevent accidents. It was a neighborhood event in Pratt.
Even though the good times of the bike unit won’t come in 2022, Bryan said he’s still very active as executive director of the Pratt Health Foundation.
“Our mission is to promote health and raise funds for Pratt Regional Medical Center to purchase those specialized equipment needs that simply cannot be met by other means,” Bryan said. “Right now we are gearing up for our annual spring fundraiser, looking to raise 6 figures for a C-Arm in the Surgery Unit.”
Bryan is also part of the Rails to Trails committee in Pratt, working to turn vacant railroad tracks into walking and/or biking trails within the city limits of Pratt.
Pratt Health Foundation is a voluntary health association and unique medical discipline support organization in Pratt, KS whose mission includes supporting cancer patients, dental and pharmaceutical assistance programs, and raising funds for medical needs. PRMCs.
“We have a lot of projects to work on,” Bryan said. “Last year we completed the twisty sidewalks at Southwest Elementary because we all know it’s more fun to walk down a path that isn’t straight.”
Neighbors at Southwest Elementary School and Haskins School won’t see the bikes this year, but it may not be a permanent loss. Who knows what next year might bring? Maybe someone will be called upon to fill the nice shoes left by Bryan in this program.