Bike Pilot Project
August 25, 2021
Riding a bike is synonymous with childhood. As President Kennedy famously said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride”- and it's an experience we believe every child should have.
The benefits of bike riding go beyond the basic skills it teaches. Not only does it improve physical fitness, it also benefits kids' healthy development and mental well-being. It provides an opportunity for connection, community, and belonging as kids bike together with their family, their friends, and in their neighbourhoods. It's good for the environment and a great way to get around, leading to independence for teens.
We knew all of these incredible benefits are out of reach for so many kids because of their family's financial circumstances. As one parent wrote, "When you don't have a lot of money, things like a bicycle become a luxury."
This summer, the Children's Foundation tested the waters of developing a bike program with a pilot Bike Project. We collaborated with the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition and key Guelph neighbourhood groups who referred kids to us that they knew needed a bike. And thanks to the support of local Canadian Tire Stores, Speed River Bicycles, and Lidz on Kidz, we were able to distribute 100 bikes, helmets, and locks!
When the thank-you notes came pouring in, we were moved by how much the bikes meant to the kids and their families. There were benefits beyond what we had imagined. One story in particular demonstrated just how valuable a bike could be in a child and family's life.
"I have one little guy with autism who is nonverbal. When he saw me arrive with his bike, the look on his face and the happy, excited noises he was making just made my heart explode with joy! His mom had to hold him back so he didn’t run out into the parking lot to me. One of my favourite moments in a very, very hard year. THANK YOU!!!!!!!" - Maryann Sly-Kensley, Parent Outreach Worker with the Guelph Community Health Centre working from the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group
"My son has a difficult time communicating. Since we received his bike, he now goes and runs to it and takes it to the front door to tell me he wants to go for a bike ride. For our family that is a huge step and it brings me so much joy! My son loves it and can thrive going outside - thank-you!" - Mom
It brings us so much joy to think of 100 kids having fun, getting outside and being physically active, and connecting with their family and friends by riding around their neighbourhoods and community. And we are more motivated than ever to build on this summer's successful pilot to build an even bigger, well-rounded Bike Program that not only gets bikes to kids but provides training and opportunities to learn, engage, and grow!
Anyone interested in investing in the physical, mental and social well-being of children through the development of a bike program can make a donation to the Free to Grow Program by Clicking Here. Or you can contact our Program Director, Karyn Kirkwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 519-826-9551 ext 28 to discuss.
More feedback from Families: