Edward Fishkin, M.D., medical director of the Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center and North Brooklyn Health Network, is on a mission to help children in Brooklyn lead healthy lives. A bicycle enthusiast for over 30 years, he spends his spring and summer weekends riding with New York City children.
"Most of the children in our program have never ridden outside of their neighborhood. We ride over bridges and in the countryside. For many this is the first time out of the city." Dr. Fishkin says. "Afterwards they tell me it was the best day of their lives."
The Kids Ride Club is the result of a partnership between Woodhull Hospital, Recycle a Bicycle, I.S. 318, P.S. 257, New York Cycle Club and HealthFirst, Inc. The goal of the program is to introduce youngsters to cycling as a safe and effective means of transportation and to encourage them to incorporate regular physical activity into their lives. The riders come from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City.
|Dr. Edward Fishkin, Woodhull Medical Director
The program, which runs between April and
September, consists of a series of at least 18 structured and supervised
bike rides for youngsters aged between 9 and 18 years. Woodhull
Hospital New York Cycle Club provides the leadership. The hospital is in charge of first aid, a sag wagon support and traffic control. Recycle a Bicycle in Long Island City provide bicycles, helmets and ride leaders. Youth riders and adult leaders who participate in two rides receive a free cycling jersey. Woodhull's hospital and medical staff purchased 12 bicycles for the children, raising the number in the fleet to 35.
The early season rides are short and easy paced (8-15 miles at 9 or 10 mph). As the season progresses and the kids become more fit and skilled, ride distance and speed increase up to 50 miles.
"After the first ride, most of the children become hooked on biking," according to Dr. Fishkin. "There are many children who have been riding with me for years. And four of our riders have cycled across the entire United States."
Dr. Fishkin says that the importance of the program goes beyond teaching children the joys of biking. He feels that it is consistent with the mission of both the North Brooklyn Health Network and HHC to improve the health of the community.
"Exercising and being fit promotes physical and mental well-being," Dr. Fishkin says. "Fit children tend not to smoke, focus better in school, and don't get pregnant. I am very proud of the children who participate in the program as well as the volunteers, many who come from Woodhull, who volunteer their time to be with the children."