While it’s implausible for most individuals my age to reflect back on their childhood and not call to mind countless memories involving their bicycle, it’s a different day and age in which we all live in. As most of us know, kids today are not outside as much as they should be. The evolution of technology, video game consoles, and social media platforms are dragging more and more children inside the home. This is a problem. However, that isn’t what this post is about.
This post is about the feeling I get (and the rest of our staff here at Nine13sports gets) when they help a child ride a bicycle for the first time and the big smile that fills their face after they find out they can do it. Consistently, 10% of the youth we work with here in Central Indiana (1,000 out of 10,000 in 2016) have never been on a bicycle before they’ve been on our bikes at Nine13sports, and that’s all ages. While that’s an alarming number and one that we certainly want to see lower in the near and distant future, it gives our staff amble opportunity to have a permanent and fruitful influence on the children.
Obviously, at first the majority of the students we work with that have never been on a bike before get relatively discouraged when they have trouble getting the pedals to move. However, after some explicit instructions from our staff and a little encouragement, the kids slowly start to figure it out. The feelings of frustration and disappointment disappear and are replaced by feelings of enthusiasm and joy. They recognize that with just a little bit of perseverance and determination they can ride a bike just like the rest of their peers.
Seeing moments such as this one on a daily basis is an incredibly heartwarming sight for our staff. It accomplishes our vision of using the art of the bicycle to teach and positively influence today’s youth. It signifies to the respective kids that they can do anything they set their mind to. That they can set their goals high and believe they can achieve them. That even when life gets hard and they can’t seem to figure it out, all they need is some good old-fashioned determination and resiliency to help them overcome the hurdles and barriers in front of them.
It’s incredible to our staff that a tool as simple as the bicycle can have such a powerful and worthy impact on so many youth of today. We are looking forward to showing more and more youth in 2017 how much they can achieve not only on two wheels and during Kids Riding Bikes, but in life as well.