Sometimes its easy to get bogged down with the tasks, the lists, the emails and the reports. The daily grind. Every time I get totally worn out by the stress of day-to-day life, something rather magical happens to remind me of the reason I do what I do. The reason I love my job at Two Wheel View. The reason Two Wheel View believes so strongly in changing the lives of so many kids in Calgary and beyond using bicycles. One such moment happened last Thursday.
I was helping to get the participants of our Beltline Bike Club ready for their first group ride last night when one young woman came forward and admitted to us that she didn’t know how to ride a bike. I can’t help but think of how brave she was for signing up for a program that she didn’t have the skills for, knowing that when I was her age (she’s in Grade 8) that would have been unthinkable.
I could tell she was nervous as we led her out to Haultain Park behind the TWV office (and the Beltline Youth Centre where the Bike Club is held). Our facilitators gave her some quick tips but it was clear she wasn’t ready to ride with the group down to Inglewood just yet. I asked her if she would like to stay in the park to practice to which she readily agreed. I spent almost two hours with Geraldine, a recent immigrant from the Philippines, as she weaved and bobbed up and down the pathways of that park.
As she practiced I noticed something interesting happening around us. Street people walking by or hanging out in the park cheered and clapped for her, told stories of their own first rides and gave her advice. Business people and other local residents gave me knowing smiles, perhaps remembering their own first bike experience. Students from her school were at the nearby playground, shouted words of encouragement and support from their perches on the top of the jungle gym.
Her determination to achieve her goal was so incredibly inspiring. She kept picking herself up, would take a deep breath and would try again. Over and over. I will never forget the smile on her face when she finally got it (as I hid my tears behind my sunglasses). She was so proud. Her school mates let out a big cheer that echoed off the nearby buildings as she pedalled towards them.
She told me that back home in the Philippines a few people had tried to teach her to ride and that she had thought she might never learn. She is the first person in her family to know how to ride a bike. MAGIC.
We all have a story about the first time we learned to ride a bike. It’s a pretty quintessential childhood rite of passage. Yesterday, Two Wheel View and I became a part of Geraldine’s story.
Thanks to FCSS, the Collaborative Funders Table, Calgary Co-op, Calgary AfterSchool and the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary- Beltline Youth Centre for their support of Two Wheel View’s Beltline Bike Club (BBC). The BBC is a unique year-long bike program that allows students who live in the Beltline communities of Calgary to earn a bike, learn bike mechanics, explore Calgary’s neighbourhoods and local businesses by bike and participate in environmental stewardship projects.