Trips for Kids takes on the trails
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
PELHAM—One year after beginning Trips for Kids Birmingham, chapter founder Doug Brown said it is riding strong, adding more trips to this year’s schedule.
The Birmingham chapter is part of the larger Trips for Kids International organization, which aims to introduce biking and the outdoors to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy the experience. Founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1986, the organization now has chapters across the United States, Canada, Israel and Sierra Leone.
“It’s mainly inner-city kids,” Brown said of the groups of 10 to 15 year-olds he works with. “This is something they’ve never done before.”
Trips for Kids Birmingham partners with groups such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club and churches. The groups provide transportation to Oak Mountain State Park, and Trips for Kids takes over from there.
Park fees are waived, and the children arrive at the south trailhead around 9 a.m. where volunteer leaders, bikes and helmets are ready and waiting for them.
Each biker is fitted with a bike and helmet, and given a souvenir water bottle, then they are taken through a short skills training session, Brown explained. After that, it is off to the Lake Trail for a two and a half mile ride.
Volunteers work with less experienced bikers to help them navigate the trail, and at the end, the kids are given the choice to “ride out to the road” or return through the trail again. The ride is not only fun for the kids, Brown said it is rewarding too.
“They feel like they have overcome the challenge of the hills… and the trail,” Brown said. “They enjoy the fact that it is quiet, they enjoy the woods… they enjoy the mentoring and they enjoy being patted on the back.”
Trips for Kids Birmingham has 13 trips on the schedule for this summer, almost double last year’s number.
“We’ve really stepped up,” Brown said, adding the chapter is looking to expand its rides to include more parks, although he said “Oak Mountain State Park has been really great to work with.”
More information and volunteer opportunities can be found on the Trips for Kids Birmingham website, at Tripsforkidsbirmingham.org.
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