As part of a nationwide effort to encourage physical activity among children, The New Canaan YMCA and New Canaan Nature Center have joined forces to present the first-ever New Canaan Bike Rodeo. The event, a celebration of YMCA Healthy Kids Day, will be held on Sunday May 16, from noon to 2 p.m. at the New Canaan Nature Center. The rain date is Sunday, May 23.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is nationwide celebration designed to foster healthy living among children and their families and is a part of the YMCA's larger efforts to help them become physically active. More than 700,000 kids and families are expected to participate in YMCA Healthy Kids Day events this spring at nearly 1,500 YMCAs nationwide.

"Keeping kids healthy and safe is at the core of what the New Canaan YMCA stands for," said Bridget Philipp, YMCA senior director of wellness and health enhancement. "The word `exercise' doesn't sound very enjoyable to many people, especially kids, but getting them active through activities like riding a bike is the key to building healthy habits that last a lifetime.

"Lou Kozar of Cycles on Call, `The bicycle store that comes to you', approached us with the idea of a Bike Rodeo, and things just grew from there," explained Philipp. "The New Canaan Nature Center came on board to collaborate with us to get the event up and running, and we couldn't be more delighted," she added. "It's a natural fit for our two organizations, since we both share a common goal of serving the New Canaan community and providing fun, safe opportunities for families to spend time being active and outdoors. We are excited about this event and look forward to future collaborations with the New Canaan Nature Center."

For the bike rodeo, families are encouraged to ride or bring their bikes to the New Canaan Nature Center. Preschoolers should bring their Tricycles to use in a specially designated area. The Bike Rodeo event is a non-competitive event made up of a series of stations, each focusing on an important aspect of safe cycling. Participants will have their bicycles inspected and will learn about and practice bicycle-handling skills that will increase their enjoyment of bicycling--and could some day save their lives. Parents are asked to participate as well.

Along with the bike rodeo event, the Nature Center grounds will be open for use, and families are encouraged to picnic and walk the trails. Kozar will be on hand to run the safety inspections and helmet checks, as well as to answer any bicycle-related questions. There will be arts and crafts, tattoos, and face painting as well as the opportunity to meet many of the animals from the Nature Center's teaching collection. In addition, the New Canaan YMCA and the New Canaan Nature Center are proud to host representatives from the New Canaan Fire Department and the New Canaan Police and EMS bike patrol. The New Canaan Ambulance Corp will bring an ambulance as well for children to visit.

For more information, contact Philipp at the New Canaan YMCA, 203-966-4528, ext. 126, bphilipp@newcanaanymca.org, or Sharon Anderson at the New Canaan Nature Center at 203-966-9577, sanderson@newcanaannature.org. More information may be found online at www.newcanaanymca.org or www.newcanaannature.org.