In honor of National Bike Month, we’ve asked Trips for Kids to share a series of guest posts about their nonprofit organization with the Razoo blog.
Operating in the United States, Canada and Israel, Trips For Kids® (TFK®) has opened the world of cycling to over 100,000 at-risk youth since 1988 through mountain bike rides and Earn-A-Bike programs.
The over 80 TFK chapters combine lessons in confidence building, achievement and environmental awareness through the development of practical skills, and the simple act of having fun. TFK funds 60% of its program through sales at their Bicycle Thrift Shop, Re-Cyclery in San Rafael, California.
Please join us in welcoming Trips for Kids to the Razoo blog and enjoy their very first guest post.
At Trips For Kids, we continually hear stories that attest to the value and impact of our services. For our first guest post on the Razoo blog, we wanted to share one of these stories. The below came to us courtesy of Dennis Guikema, Assistant Principal of Urban Promise Academy
As a cyclist in the Bay Area living near the trails of our state and national parks, I feel pretty close to heaven. These experiences are often taken for granted by those of us privileged enough to have them, yet many Bay Area youth, although living just minutes away, are complete strangers to them.
As an Oakland middle school assistant principal, my office often feels worlds away from these trails, hills, and beaches. The path to my office looks nothing like Tennessee Valley. For some students the path is lined with intense challenges and all are going through the extremely awkward period. Disruptive or defiant behavior is what brings kids to me.
Recently, I challenged a group of my kids who know the assistant principal’s office all too well: If they would commit to a plan to make more productive and healthy choices, then I would take them on an adventure they would love. They took the bait. I emailed Trips for Kids. Anticipation rose.
Ten days before our trip someone fired several shots from the corner in front of our school as our students were on their way to class. Jose, one of the boys scheduled to go on our trip, was walking to school with his sister. They were only a few feet from the shooter and dove to the ground for protection. Jose instinctively covered his sister. Ten days later, on the day of our trip, he was still shaking, literally.
While a mountain bike trip can help cut through life’s stress for all of us, imagine what it meant for Jose. To take deep breaths and fill his lungs with fresh air. To release anger by racing to the top of a hill. To scream, not in fear, but with joy as he bounced down a trail. This gave him a new lens. The fact that he shared this with two adults who are deeply involved in his life helped him take these experiences from the woods back to Oakland.
The connections forged on TFK trips enrich our work beyond measure. Conversations are still referenced weeks later, and the relationships and trust that are made can last a lifetime. My first batch of high school students is now in their 30s, and when we run across each other, it is not uncommon for a memory from a Trips for Kids’ excursion to be recalled.
Stories like Dennis’ really reinforce the value of what we do. We’ll be sharing more about TFK with the Razoo blog over the weeks to come. Please stay tuned!
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