Meet One Of Cambridge's Finest: Officer Chris Ponte
Officer Chris Ponte is a familiar face in the Kennedy Longfellow and Cambridgeport Elementary schools. He works as the schools’ resource officer, but Chris also plays a big part in assisting the CYCLE Kids programs at each school. In that role, he helps the gym teachers run the program by teaching beginner bikers the basics of learning how to ride and supervising the experienced riders.
In addition to helping out at the elementary schools, Officer Ponte was also involved in Girls Sports Day in Cambridge. Girls Sports Day is an annual event designed to introduce young girls to a variety of sports, and that aims to break the stereotype that sports are for boys. The event promotes the importance of leading an active lifestyle and the benefits of being involved in both team and individual sports. One of the sports included is biking, as part of the CYCLE Kids program.
Officer Ponte recalls a particularly rewarding memory of a girl who he taught to ride in the CYCLE Kids program this spring. Upon entering the CYCLE Kids program, she had no experience and felt intimidated. Officer Ponte helped this girl become more comfortable on the bike by teaching her basic skills and being a consistent role model. By the end of the program, the little girl had become much more comfortable. Now confident and determined, the little girl continued to practice using the school’s bike even after the CYCLE Kids program had ended. She would often run up to Office Ponte in the halls to report her progress.
Officer Ponte explains that the kids are usually surprised to see him on a bike when the program first starts, but added his interactions with the kids are great. Initially, he was only the school resource officer, but through the program his role expanded: the kids now come to know him as helper, a leader, and a trusted mentor. His most rewarding moments happen when he can share in a child’s joy in their own accomplishments.