Kansas City police teach kids bike safety as Blue Hills community bands together

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 65103 ZIP code of Kansas City, the Blue Hills neighborhood, is known for its crime. Saturday, a handful of people tried to make it known for something more: community.

The St. James United Methodist Church parking lot at 55th andThe Paseo was full of orange cones and 20 bikes of various colors.

Sure, to most adults, it’s just a bike. But to a kid, as Kenneth Thomas remembered, "it was freedom. You could do what you want."

He smiled at his two sons riding in circles as sweat dripped from his brow.

And to the community, this collection of bikes means something, too.

"It means that we are showing them love," said Dr. Linda Settles of St. James United Methodist Church, "and who doesn’t need love today, right?"

The parking lot also housed a tent with a grill full of hot dogs, and three tables laden with school supplies.

Linda Brown looked over her hard work.

"You know what it is?" she asked rhetorically. "It’s our neighborhood, and we are the community," said the member of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association. "If we don’t take care of our own, who else will?"

In addition to the food and school supplies, Kansas City police officers taught the 20 or so kids there free bike safety classes. At the end of the three hour event, the children learned they got to keep the helmets - and the bikes.

"For many of these kids," said officer Richard Marquez, an avid bike rider himself, "it’s going to be their first bike. Already, one of these children received her first book bag.

The community groups - neighborhood associations, educators, church members, and police officers - hope this is just the first of many more events to come.