Blog-a-thon: The Blogunteer, “Trips for Kids”

This blog submission is by Stacy Pearson from The Blogunteer, a blog that is dedicated to inspiring volunteerism by highlighting
the many organizations already out there making a difference and
individuals who give their time. To see more from The Blogunteer, check out their website or follow this link.

November 13-19, 2011 is Geography Awareness Week and
the National Geographic Society is hosting its third annual
Blog-A-Thon.  This year’s theme is “Geography: The Adventure in Your
Community.”  It is about connections between people and their
surrounding environments, local action, and, of course, geography
education.

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Today I will profile an organization that gives kids an opportunity
to explore their local geography on a bike.  The Trips for Kids™ youth
biking program is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides
mountain biking outings and environmental education for kids who would
not otherwise be exposed to these types of activities.  Their goal is to
combine lessons in personal responsibility, achievement, and
environmental awareness through the development of practical skills and
simply having fun.

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The vision for the organization was conceived in 1986 while Marilyn
Price was pedaling up Mount Tamalpais outside of San Francisco,
California.  During her ride, Marilyn was remembering the kids she saw
during her frequent volunteering at St. Anthony’s Dining Room in the heart of the inner city.    Most of those kids had never seen
their city from the high up perspective of Mount Tamalpais, instead
spending their days surrounded by cement and exposure to drugs, violence
and gang involvement.  She thought it would be great if these kids had a
chance to challenge themselves physically.  The idea for Trips for Kids
combined her lifelong love of bicycling, an earlier desire to be a
social worker, and her interest in environmental issues.

The program functioned as a pilot program for two years until
becoming incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1988.  The program
continued to grow in the San Francisco area to provide a bicycle thrift
shop called The Re-Cyclery and an Earn-A-Bike Program that provides a safe environment for kids to learn skills and work
toward earning their own bike and accessories.  In 1999, the program
started supporting the creation of additional chapters.  

Community Bicycle Center from Lasting Memories Videotaping on Vimeo.

The Trips for
Kids national headquarters remains in San Rafael, California. They have
also grown to have 76 chapters throughout
the United States and Canada, in addition to one chapter in Israel.
  Each chapter is financially independent, but the national organization
provides startup support and information sharing opportunities.  The
program is flexible which has resulted in a diverse set of chapters. 
Some have started earn-a-bike or bike mechanic programs for the youth
they serve and a few have started a bike thrift shop to help pay for
their expenses.

To date, more that 79,500 vulnerable, at-risk children have
experienced a life-changing day mountain biking; an experience they
would not have had without Trips for Kids.

So, how can you help?

Most of the Trips for Kids chapters would love to have volunteers to
help them on the mountain bike rides with the kids they serve.  Other
volunteer opportunities would include office help, volunteering at
events, serving on a chapter board, helping run earn-a-bike programs,
and more.  You can contact the chapter nearest you to find an opportunity for them.

You can also make a monetary donation to the national program to assist with program costs. 

You can learn more about Trips for Kids on their website, www.tripsforkids.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Stacy Pearson, The Blogunteer

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