Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder has come a long way over ten years. Our first ride was on May 22, 2004 with the Beacon Program from Rishel Middle School. With the support of a crew of my cycling friends, a sprouting list of adventurous volunteers and a borrowed pickup truck, I managed to cobble together enough bikes to have ready in the dusty parking lot of Elk Meadow Park before TFK’s first mountain bike ride. Byron, TFK’s first volunteer, and I were waiting for eight kids from urban Denver to arrive. Sweating in the sun, I scanned the road below for a van full of youngsters and wondered: Would the group show? Could the kids even ride a bike? Would they have fun or would they leave defeated?
The kids did arrive. They arrived with positive attitudes, laughter and an unquenchable thirst for adventure.
They all had a blast on our first, challenging ride, pushing on the uphills and soaring on the downhills – ultimately setting the bar for what was to become our thriving program. Trips for Kids was definitely going to work out! As the 8 kids from TFK’s first ride departed that afternoon, I started asking a new question, a question I’ve dedicated the last ten years to answering:
How can we share our joy of bicycles and the great outdoors with even more young people?
Maria, smiling sweetly, took her time at the back with her teacher all day. She told the boys who had to be up front that she had heard and saw a humming bird buzz by.
The first year, with the help of a few cycling friends, we managed to lead 16 rides and expose 116 kids to the magical experience of riding a bike on Colorado’s Front Range. Each year since, we have grown and over ten years our Ride Program has touched 8,000 diverse youth. Every rider that participates in our program expresses the same awe and delight that Oreo, Maria and their 6 friends did on that very first ride.
We were getting something very right and with the ongoing support of generous individuals like you, we were able to slowly grow and serve more youth in need.
In 2007, we expanded beyond the Ride Program implementing the Earn-a-Bike Program – allowing youth to learn bike maintenance and repair while putting in enough hours to “earn” one of our donated bicycles. Earn-a-Bike youth learn life skills including respect for their environment, problem solving, conflict resolution, goal persistence, patience, and the meaning of service above self. For our youth, the bike is a mode of transportation and a gateway to fun and enjoyment, but most importantly a metaphor for their lives.
Providing our Ride and Earn-a-Bike programs to youth in need required us to find a consistent, stable source of income. In March of 2013, we launched our nonprofit bike shop, Lucky Bikes Re-cyclery. Lucky Bikes takes bike donations, refurbishes them and resells them within the primarily Spanish speaking community in Southwest Denver. Lucky Bikes serves as a community hub, giving youth something to do outside of school hours and teaching important skills to all members of the community. Proceeds from these sales are used to help fund a portion of our critical programming.
Every week we have a large group of middle school boys that show up at Lucky Bikes and participate in the Earn-a-Bike program in preparation for their summer. Now, they have become a staple of the shop, stopping by every day and asking what they can do to pitch in. They will earn a bike but they’ve also earned a feeling of accomplishment; of pride; and of community. There is no price tag for that.
Our first year we were able to reach 116 youth. Now, with your help, we hope to reach 2000 youth in 2014! With a contribution from you in honor of our 10th anniversary, we can reach this ambitious goal!
I asked the question 10 years ago: will this work? Now, I ask the question: will you join us so we can do more?
Thank you for your role in the success of Trips for Kids over the last 10 years and for your consideration of the next 10 years. I look forward to hearing from you.
Founder, Trips for Kids Denver/Boulder