Trips for Kids, the northern California non-profit, has taken 50,000 underserved urban youth in the US, Canada and Israel on mountain bike rides since its inception more than 20 years ago.
"I would never had dreamed we would be where we are," Trips for Kids (TFK) founding director Marilyn Price told BikeRadar. "I can never really plan into the future and have never developed a business plan. I just continue to persevere and work hard and let it all unfold. I think it has worked so well because kids and bikes are a natural combination!"
More than 60 chapters advance the TFK mission. Located in a variety of communities, the groups identify at-risk youth and work through local youth services agencies to help them.
According to Price, chapters are formed by a variety of individuals and organizations including environmental centers, schools, public health agencies, after-school learning centers, bike advocacy clubs, and non-profits like the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and Girls & Boys Clubs.
In many cases the kids they serve have never visited the nearby parks and outdoor areas. TFK provides the bicycles, helmets and other equipment, along with a trained ride leader and adult volunteers.
"I'm proud that our efforts have helped thousands of young people experience the world's natural beauty and the excitement of completing a physical challenge - and so many more still need our help," Price added. "There are more young people than ever who need to get outside, understand how to take care of our environment, spend a day with caring, supportive adults, and get tired from good, enjoyable exercise."
The children who participate in the rides receive safety instructions and are paired with adult ride buddies. Throughout the ride they learn environmental awareness as well as nutrition and fitness tips. Many of the participants report that the TFK mountain bike rides teach them to set goals and achieve them.
For more information, visit www.tripsforkids.org.