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Wilcox Health Keiki Bike Safety Day draws hundreds of children

LIHU‘E — The misty weather on Saturday did not deter the more than 200 keiki, not counting their parents and siblings, who registered for the annual Wilcox Health Keiki Bike Safety Day in the Wilcox Medical Center back parking lot, where a large, circus-like canopy was an effective hedge against the mist.

“The Keiki Bike Safety Day is such an important event,” said Jen Chahanovich, president and CEO of Wilcox Medical Center and CEO of Kaua‘i Medical Clinic, who watched the first batch of 25 giveaway bicycles roll off.

“Not only does it promote a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age, it provides our keiki with the tools and knowledge they need to be safe while having fun.”

Chahanovich’s statement not only applied to the keiki receiving a free, dual-certified (bicycles and skateboards) helmet, but to the participating interns and University of Hawai‘i at Manoa John A. Burns Schol of Medicine medical students who joined scores of volunteers from the different Lions clubs, Scouts of America, Aloha Council, Alohacare, Girl Scouts of Hawai‘i, American Medical Response, Hawai‘i Life Flight, Kaua‘i Police Department, Keiki to Career Kaua‘i and the nonprofit Kaua‘i Path.

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami dropped by to take a turn on the bicycle, and was given the honor of pulling the first tickets for the 25 bicycles given away through the courtesy of community partners, including employees of Kaua‘i Medical Center.

“The most heartwarming aspect 0f Keiki Bike Safety Day is seeing some boy or girl winning their first bike and getting fitted for a helmet,” Kawakami said. “As a child, that bike opened up my world to different adventures.”

Once a keiki registered, they were shuttled to the helmet-fitting station, manned by Wilcox staff, UH-Manoa medical students and Wilcox interns. Once fitted, the keiki moved to a helmet-decorating station to personalize their safety gear before
moving on to a bike safety inspection station courtesy of AlohaCare.

It was then on to the skills enhancement course, where Kaua‘i Path volunteers fitted the keiki to the right-sized bike before letting them loose on the course that was enhanced with some off-roading opportunities to add to the excitement. A concussion prevention education and activities with Wilcox medical professionals rounded out the wait for the bike giveaway drawings.

“Aside from scrapes and scratches, I’ve seen a fair amount of head traumas from bicycle accidents,” said Dr. Robert Wotring, the section chief of pediatrics at Wilcox Health. “A well-fitting helmet can do a lot to protect a child’s growing brain, so events like this are really beneficial to our keiki and their families.”

He added that as kids grow, their brains grow and develop.

“If they have an injury to their brain, especially repeated injuries, it can cause some long-term consequences,” Wotring said. “Concussions are common, and can cause long-term injuries in kids. We want to help protect them from those kinds of injuries. That’s the main reason we want them to be safe and protect their growing brains.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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