“I just sent a text to my boys and said its about to get real,” said a young man from New York City right before he got up to present at the Youth Bike Summit, about bicycle projects in his neighborhood.
I felt lucky to represent the BTA at this great conference this year. I had an amazing and inspired time as I watched youth from all over the county share their dreams and goals about bicycling and their communities.
The common theme was summed up well by Ever Franco who proclaimed, “You guys just don’t know how much bikes have changed my life,” to an auditorium after the evening entertainment, a Bicycle Fashion Show. Ever came with a group from Phoenix Cycles out of Pennsylvania.
What did I learn at this conference organized by youth and youth bike organizations?
- There are lots of excited youth out there, let’s support them!
- Maker spaces are a great way to engage youth (and adults!) at a conference.
- The young women from Girls Bike Club at West Town Bikes created an amazing fashion show to highlight that biking can look good are awesome!
- The BTA and the CCC are excited to create a fertile space for youth empowerment through bicycling to grow in Oregon!
One of the keynote speakers was Shem Rajoon, a young man inspired by a program he participated in as a teenager where he learned that nothing was impossible when he pedaled up the hill on Amsternam Ave in NYC.
“Know how to see potential in youth even if they can’t se it on themselves,” he shared. “Don’t be afraid to dream, explore and create. There are moments when doubt fills your head. Find what inspires you and focus on that. Nothing is impossible.”
Next year the Summit will be held in Seattle. Want to come?