by Liz Duda
Tega Cay, SC (Mar. 31, 2019) Gold Hill Middle School 6th graders assigned the Pay it Forward project, “to think of an idea for change that helps our community and put it into action,” made a big community impact. One 6th-grade team, led by a 12-year old Charlie Duda, identified three neighborhood needs: 1) the Tega Cay and Fort Mill community would benefit from more bicycling and greater bicycle safety awareness (as noted in this letter to the editor), 2) a beginner dirt trail created this past year at Runde Park remains undiscovered by local kids, and (3) All Play Together needs funds to build the all-inclusive playground in a Tega Cay park.
So Charlie and his team hosted a “Bike Rodeo” for preschool and elementary school-aged children, in partnership with Tega Cay Trails and Tega Cay Healthy Kids. Passionate, knowledgeable volunteers taught bicycle safety to about 40 children and their families. Kids got their helmets fitted and bikes checked (and learned the basics of how to do it themselves). They learned about starting, stopping, scanning, signals, and crosswalk safety. They tested their skills in an educational obstacle course. The more adventurous tried the dirt trail in the trees. (And the advanced riders found a jump near the bridge.)
6th-grader Austin Parks and his family worked alongside All Play Together board member, Lori Christison, discussing the playground rendering and raising awareness and money. What is an all-inclusive playground? “Play structures with accessibility for all—double wide ramps, multi levels accessible by wheelchair, wheelchair accessible glider, roller table, roller slides, cozy dome for climbing and quiet space, seesaw with supportive seating for four, a variety of swings, cushy, level poured in place surfacing, ample shade and fencing.” (Read more about All Play Together here).
The creation of the beginner dirt trail in Runde Park was led by Tega Cay Trails volunteer, Ben Ullman, in partnership with the City of Tega Cay. The city provided the dirt, and Ullman worked alone and alongside other volunteers spreading and shaping it. Ullman is heavily involved in the area’s trails thanks to his former life as a BMX racer and passion for mountain biking. Related, he was awarded the “Community Leader” award in 2018 by Eat Smart Move More South Carolina. At the Bike Rodeo, Ullman also shared his knowledge of local trails, pointing them out on a large map provided by the City of Tega Cay.
The event was a success thanks to the outstanding volunteers. From the beloved Tega Cay Elementary School (TCES) 4th-grade teacher, Mrs. Chris Trimmer-Jordan, often seen bicycling around Tega Cay, to National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s Catawba Ridge Riders (Composite) middle school/high school mountain biking team members, to the ever-friendly and helpful mother who regularly bikes with her family to TCES, to Andrew Morrison of Bike Town in Rock Hill, to Luis Mart of the Tarheel Trailblazers, to family members always ready to lend a hand – sharing their knowledge and passion with these kids and their families motivated them to bike safer and have fun.
This Bike Rodeo helped TCES students get ready for National Bike to School Day on Friday, May 10. The school is fortunate to have relatively safe bicycle and pedestrian access. It celebrates the successful thrice-annual Walk and Bike to School Day events at TCES, in which most students and families participate, and the Tega Cay Police Department (TCPD) typically hosts Coffee with a Cop. TCES hopes families will participate in weekly Family Friday Bike/Walk to School, promoting fitness, community and environmentalism.
Organizers appreciated local support to spread the word about the Bike Rodeo: the City of Tega Cay; Gold Hill Middle School; TCES; Movement, Mindfulness and Me; Eat Smart, Move More York County; Macaroni Kid Fort Mill -Tega Cay – Rock Hill SC; and Blooming Einsteins. The event also benefited from the Town of Clover and Rock Hill Parks, Recreation & Tourism sharing their Bike Rodeo experiences, and Tega Cay Tennis Club support.
If you have bicycle or pedestrian photos or stories to share on social media, tag #BikeWalkYorkCounty (or #BikeWalkFMSD if you are biking or walking to Fort Mill School District schools).
Interested in learning more about bike safety?
- See Resources on the SC Safe Routes to School Resource Center website
- And the Bicycle Riding and Safety Curriculum developed by Winthrop University on the Palmetto Cycling Coalition website