RUSSELL The mid-July heat didn’t deter turnout for the annual Bicycle Safety Camp at the Our Lady Bellefonte Hospital in Russell.

The camp has been active for the last 21 years and aims to teach children the importance of bike safety. Children between 5 and 12 were invited to the camp to learn important bike riding skills such as balancing, bike handling and operation and dodging accident-causing situations. They also received free minor bike repairs and a helmet from the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts.

“This promotes safety,” said Tim O’Toole, director of rehabilitation services at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. “Let’s face it, in the Ashland area we have a limited area for activity. Cycling is a great activity that anyone can do, and we would love to see more people exposed to it.”

The camp was free to the public and provided refreshments and games for those attending.

Jennifer Mackey of Flatwoods brought her daughter to the safety camp.

“We don’t have a neighborhood for her to ride, so I was hoping for her (daughter) to learn a little about bike safety,” said Mackey.

After the children registered, they were directed to The Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts. Their bicycles received minor repairs like airing up tires and checking the oil on their bike chains. Then, they received a free helmet and started on the safety course where the Ashland Police Department helped them ride through a series of cones.

Mackey brought her five-year-old daughter to the safety camp.

“It’s really important that the bicycles are safe and the riders are safe,” said President of Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts Richard Eichberger.

The camp ended with a presentation on bicycle safety and multiple giveaways for door prizes, which included eight bicycles.

“This is going to open their (kids’) eyes if they’ve never been on a bike,” said Eichberger. “Cycling is a sense of freedom. Kids get on a bike and they feel like they have control, so it’s going to give the kids a sense of freedom.”