There are young people in Charlotte who need our help. Unfortunately, time is that most precious of resources and always in short supply. So it makes sense to give back in a way that you enjoy. If you love mountain biking, being outdoors and having a little exercise thrown into the mix, then Trips for Kids Charlotte is the perfect way to get more involved and have a positive impact on a child’s life.
“Ultimately it’s an opportunity for kids to be exposed to and become proficient at a lifelong healthy activity,” said Paula Fricke, the president and executive director of Trips for Kids Charlotte. “That hopefully leads to a life of healthy behavior.”
Trips for Kids Charlotte, an all volunteer nonprofit, provides a phenomenal platform to mentor children when they are in that critical 10-15 year old age range, all while having a great time on two wheels.
Located just off North Davidson — you’ve probably seen the huge mural on the side of the Re-Cyclery, designed by Will Puckett and hand painted by over 100 volunteers in a paint by numbers project a few years ago, it’s hard to miss. Trips for Kids Charlotte consists of three main programs: the Re-Cyclery, the Earn-a- Bike Program, and the Ride Program. All three of these programs work together to improve the quality of life for young people in Charlotte.
Here’s a quick look at how you can help and what each program does.
How you can help
Donate: That old bike in the carport, the one that’s been sitting there rusting for the past three years…here’s your chance to get rid of it. Any bikes you no longer need, the Re-Cyclery will gladly take. Don’t have a way to get your old bike to the Re-Cyclery, not a problem. Just email Paula at [email protected] and they will send a truck to come pick it up.
Vounteer: If you are a talented bike mechanic, the crew at the Re-Cyclery could use your help repairing the bikes. If you’re interested in volunteering just email Paula at [email protected] and feel free to stop by the Re-Cyclery during their hours and introduce yourself to the staff, they can let you know where they need the most help.
The Re-Cyclery’s hours change seasonally so give them a call at 704-910-3970 to make sure they are before dropping in.
Buy a bike: If you or someone you know needs a new bike, the Re-Cyclery has them, and lots of them, in all styles and sizes. And many of the bikes are only a few years old. You can get an incredible bike, at a great price, all while helping to support Trips for Kids Charlotte. Not a bad deal.
The Earn-A-Bike Program
Just like the name suggests, the Earn-A-Bike Program provides children from fragile neighborhoods the opportunity to earn their own bike. By completing a six-hour course that focuses on safety, bike maintenance and riding skills, the kids can earn their very own bicycle, which comes complete with a helmet, lock and bike light, so they have everything they need to hit the streets riding.
The Earn-A-Bike classes, which are held at the Re-Cyclery, usually take place on Tuesday evenings from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. with up to eight kids per class. Each session consists of three two-hour classes, and the Earn-A-Bike Program typically runs one three-week session every month.
If you know someone who could benefit from the Earn-A-Bike Program just email Paula at: [email protected] to get them signed up for the next class. (To ensure that the children who most need this program have access to bikes, they do ask that only children who otherwise would not be able to afford a bike apply.)
How you can help: The Earn-A-Bike Program has a solid group of regular instructors, but they are always looking for volunteers to help with the classes. If you’re like me and love riding, but maybe aren’t the most adept at basic bicycle repairs, volunteering to help with the Earn-A- Bike Program is a great way to learn some basic bike mechanic skills, all while helping young cyclists reach their goal.
The Ride Program
The Ride Program takes kids between the ages of 10-15 years old on weekly mountain biking trips to Colonel Francis Beatty Park. Trips for Kids Charlotte currently partners with several Title One schools, to provide positive reinforcement and get groups of kids out on the trails.
“What’s very cool about working with the schools, it’s often the teachers who are bringing the kids to us. So now the teachers are seeing the kids outside of the classroom and vice versa. So you have a nice dynamic going on there,” says Paula.
Most ride groups tend to have about 15-20 children riders with around the same number of adults riding along. Each adult is partnered up as a buddy with each of the kids, providing direct supervision, guidance and the chance for mutual learning. Trips for Kids Charlotte has their own bikes at the park, complete with helmets, so if you know of a young person who could benefit from a ride through the woods, just reach out to Paula at [email protected] and see if there’s room to get them on the next ride.
Most kids who participate in the Ride Program have at least a basic level of riding skill. But if there are first time riders in the group, they typically offer a quick refresher course in the parking lot to assess everyone’s skill level before hitting the trails. The Saturday rides usually last from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., followed by a healthy lunch that is provided for the children. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!
How you can help: Trips for Kids Charlotte is always looking for volunteers to help with the weekly rides, so if you want something fun to do that will help the youth of Charlotte, think about being a volunteer for one of their next weekly rides. The rides are almost always at Colonel Francis Beatty Park, where they have plenty of trails for the different skill levels of the riders, from green trails (the easiest) to black (the most challenging).
Don’t have a bike?
Not a problem. Trips for Kids Charlotte has extra adult bikes in storage at the park as well, so all you have to do is reach out to Paula ahead of time at [email protected] and see when the next ride is taking place.
“It’s a great opportunity to give…and every volunteer brings something different to the ride that is going to benefit the kids,” says Paula.
Trips for Kids Charlotte is improving the quality of life for Charlotte’s young people who need it the most, and Trips for Kids Charlotte gives us the chance to give back in a way that’s fun and exciting. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two out on the trails.
Connect with Trips for Kids Charlotte
For bike drop-offs, go to the Re-Cyclery’s back door at 1131 N. Caldwell St., 28206.