School looks better from the bike

Thanks to your support of the Major Taylor Project, more kids than ever are learning the joy of bicycling in underserved communities. This Spring, we plan to expand to Tacoma and reach kids like Fatima, but our van died. We need your help.

Fatima is getting sleepy. She always gets sleepy toward the end of the day at Lincoln High School. Although she doesn’t have any homework tonight, she’s not terribly excited to go home, either. She wishes for a new friend group or a new hobby, but because there’s no bus service to the Tacoma YMCA, she’s not sure where to turn.

Just before the day’s final bell rings, her math teacher reminds the class that “Bike Club” starts the following day after class. Fatima has always thought of Mr. Smythe as a goofy guy. Who rides their bike to school, anyway!?

The teacher’s word ‘exercise’ catches her ear, however. Maybe she should give this bike riding thing a shot. The next afternoon, she is telling eight of her classmates and three adults her name and her favorite TV show at the beginning of Bike Club. The adults there hold onto their bikes like they’re as precious as iPhones. Fatima is a little nervous, but excited by the prospect of getting on a bike again. It's something she hasn’t done for eight whole years!

The first session is challenging for Fatima, but not in the way she expected: balancing the bike is no trouble at all, but she really struggles with starting and stopping. With a few helpful hints from the ride leader, Liz, she gets the hang of the ‘quick-stop’ by the end of the second week.

“Good thing, too,” she says to herself, “because next week we’re going to ride on the road!”

Over the course of the next eight weeks, Fatima spends each Tuesday afternoon riding bikes around the Tacoma area with her schoolmates, including her best new friend Trisha. She and Trisha have sixth period together and they’ve both noticed that they’re not as sleepy since they started riding bikes.

The two new riders find a couple of bikes at the nearby Goodwill and can’t wait to ride to the YMCA during the Summer break. Fatima didn’t think she’d ever admit it, but it feels kinda good to be goofy like Mr. Smythe!

The Major Taylor Project is creating bicycling enthusiasts like Fatima with support from people like you. And we need your help.

This year, our old van died. The timing couldn’t have been worse as we are set to double the number of kids we serve through the Major Taylor Project and our education programs in the coming years. Our vans are used to transport 160 bikes, our mentor/instructors, and equipment to communities throughout the region.

We need to raise $40,000 to purchase two slightly used vans in the coming year to make our work possible.

Please consider a donation to the Bike Vans for Kids campaign and help us raise $40,000 by March 2015. Thanks to a generous challenge grant from the Scan|Design Foundation all gifts up to $5,000 will be matched!