Tenth-grader Chris Smith is well on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout out of Ocean View Boy Scout Troop 281. Having built and donated three bike racks, which now reside at Phillip C. Showell Elementary School, the Southern Delaware School of the Arts and Selbyville Town Hall, Smith recently went into the classrooms at Showell to also teach kids about the importance of bike safety.
“The reason I’m doing the classes is because with new bike racks, what’s the point of having them if the kids are not safe?” Smith explained.
Smith said that the idea for the bike racks came after a conversation with his taekwondo instructor.
“We were talking about it. He has a bike shop and suggested bike racks. I went and researched bike racks and found different models. It’s pretty practical, because it’s something they can use.”
Smith said he received generous donations from Hoban’s Auto; Dr. Vickers; Dr. Griffin; Dr. Kramer; Mason Dixon Battery; Food Lion; Bunting and Murray; Georgia House; Roots Landscaping; Animal Health Sales Inc.; Women of the Moose; Rommel’s Ace Hardware; Lord Baltimore Lions Charities; Fenwick Island Lions Club; Sussex Eye Center; Phillip Showell’s PTO; and McDonalds.
After completing the bike racks, Smith realized he had enough money left over to purchase helmets to be given out to a number of students at Showell who did not have one of their own.
Smith contacted the Delaware State Fire School — which offers talks on a variety of topics, including bike and fire safety — to see if they would help him go into the classrooms and talk with students.
In class, Smith worked with Delaware State Fire School Instructor Mary Beth Murray, and they read the kids a book and did an demonstration of what happens when a cyclist does and doesn’t wear a helmet, using an egg.
According to Murray, “Egert” was a “smart egg that does well in school and listens. Eggy, Egert’s friend, does what he wants. He is a smart egg, but he chooses not to use it. Eggy has a beautiful helmet at home, but he doesn’t want to wear it because he thinks it’s uncool. Eggert has an older helmet, but he doesn’t care what it looks like, because he knows it’s the right thing to do.”
“Egert” the egg would then be placed into a Styrofoam capsule and tossed around the classroom, with the capsule to then be opened, revealing that his shell was still intact. Eggy would then be placed in a sealed plastic bag and tossed, smashing his shell immediately.
The two got a collective “ooooooooh!” from the students, who then said they would be sure to wear bike helmets.
Smith also discussed with students that when they are out riding they should wear clothes that won’t get caught in the wheels or pedals of the bike, follow traffic signs and signals and use reflectors, which were donated to his project by the Delaware Department of Transportation with the help of Sarah Coakley.
Students in Sharline Derosier’s second-grade class were excited to share what they learned from the safety talk.
“Always wear a helmet. And never go on the road, because you could get hit by a car,” said Davonna Duffield.
“When there’s a lot of traffic, walk your bike across the street,” said Dawn Raymond.
“Never wear dark clothes,” added Kim Inthilath.
In Susan Deery’s first-grade class, the kids said they would now wear their helmets after seeing the egg demonstration and seeing a scrape Smith had on his shoulder from a fall he took, though he was wearing a helmet.
Kalani Snader, 7, didn’t have a helmet when Smith came to visit, but she won a brand-new one thanks to his efforts.
“I’m happy,” he said. “If you don’t wear a helmet, you might hurt yourself really bad.”
Deery, who was Smith’s fourth-grade teacher at Showell, said she was proud of how he’s grown into a responsible young man.
“It makes me feel really proud. He always had a good head on his shoulders. I’m proud. I’m not really surprised because he’s always had it in him,” she said. “He’s always been very serious about Eagle Scouts and his community service. It’s really wonderful to see that when they grow up they’re on that good path.”
Smith said he wanted to thank his parents, as well as Wayne Stacey, Mark West, Tom Roth and John Douds, for all of their help and support throughout the long process of his Eagle Scout projects.
“There were a lot of people that kept me going through the whole process. It takes a lot of dedication, but in the end it’s a lot of fun,” said Smith.
Of scouting itself, Smith said it’s a great for the friends that you make and the activities you can do.
“I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. It’s just part of me, I guess,” he said, adding that he’d advise younger scouts to “keep doing it. It’s a lot of fun. It’ll get you really far in life.”
Smith said he’s happy that his project will not only give the community new bike racks but also help kids understand the importance of bike safety.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that you might change some people’s decisions about wearing helmets and they’re probably going to be a lot safer now.”