A Vision Becomes a Reality

Trips for Kids High Desert Rider Chapter Director, Raphael Harris, looks to the future.

Trips for Kids High Desert Rider Chapter Director, Raphael Harris, looks to the future.

In 2018 my vision to provide the underserved communities of Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita California with a quality holistic bicycle program finally came to fruition. While serving as the Athletic Director of our local Boys & Girls Club I previously struggled to get enough support to launch an independent bicycle program. However, I did not give up and after some diligent searching, I found the National Trips For Kids website.  I learned Trips for Kids was a well-established program currently looking to include more chapters to their organization. After filling out the required information and some great conversations with national team members our Antelope Valley chapter was created.

The kids were excited and intrigued to hear about the development of our new Trips For Kids Chapter. Fortunately for them, a great bicycle event called the Sea Otter Classic Jamboree was right around the corner. Shortly after our chapter was approved I was given the opportunity to travel to beautiful Monetary, California to participate in a directors meeting. This was extremely beneficial for the advancement of our chapter as I learned applicable best practices from other Trips For Kids chapter directors and national staff. 

We packed up our van with camping supplies and 10 lucky youth for a weekend of excitement, camping and of course bike riding. Our kids had a blast as we formed an instant comradery with other chapters who helped us pitch our tents on arrival. At the Jamboree kids were able to visit sponsors and load goodie bags, play games, ride Specialized mountain bikes on a pump track, and observe real downhill races. One of our many highlights was being able to watch the Danny MacAskill skill and stunts show.

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At our club, a new bicycle culture was starting to form, kids were wearing their sponsor hats and posting bike brand stickers on our message teen board. We started to scout local trails and look for sponsors. Our club kids who were used to just being indoors or visiting local city events were now asking about camping and going riding again. After a chance meeting our local public transportation company they began to donate mountain bikes that had been left and stored. This gave us a good supply of used bikes and allowed us to start bicycle workshops. In early September before our first official ride, our chapter was invited to represent Trips For Kids at the Giant Corporate office. We participated in the Sprockids training session learning how to effectively teach road, trails and obstacle course riding skills.  It was amazing to experience learning and riding the trails on their news bike models. I was able to share this experience with Trips For Kids Tulare County directors.

Chapter Director Raphael Harris, photographed on left, receiving his newly assembled Giant Bicycles from his local bike shop, Bicycle John’s.

Chapter Director Raphael Harris, photographed on left, receiving his newly assembled Giant Bicycles from his local bike shop, Bicycle John’s.

Time to ride.

We ended off our 2018 season as a fully functioning and establish program renamed Trips For Kids High Desert Riders capable of transporting and giving rides to over 15 kids at a time. We conducted multiple rides and skill courses in the Antelope Valley. Our Chapter takes pride in helping underserved kids to get out and enjoy nature on two wheels! We look to utilize our brand new Giant sponsored bikes to take our program to the next level in 2019 we have our first rides of the year mid-January  booked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clarita!   We can not wait to hit more dirt in a few more weeks!

Raphael Harris