"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"
I affirm that the "world" is a beautiful place and that as a sentient being we are here to experience life to our fullest potential. Life's magnificence awaits the ones who are open to experiencing its magic through trying new things. For many, due to socioeconomic barriers, new and different cycling experiences are not easily had and require an intervention in order to occur. In order to open this world up to greater enjoyment for all, I've committed myself to helping to orchestrate those moments in time where cycling can be introduced and enjoyed in a safe and supportive environment. Particularly with inner city youth, who often lack the resources or access to cycling related activities like road races, mountain biking trails, cyclocross events or BMX tracks.
Why is this important?
When we look closely at the world of cycling we can see that diversity and inclusion are woefully missing. How do we work to move the needle to get more BIPOC and women involved? While there is no "silver bullet" solution experiential education can greatly contribute.
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel on diversity equity and inclusion and almost all of the esteemed panelists, accomplished professional cyclists male and female, indicated that as youth they saw or experienced cycling in a way that allowed them to dream. That being the case it would seem that the way forward would be to provide experiential educational opportunities for youth so that they too can be activated by the magic in those moments to pursue their own thoughts and dreams in this space. Experiences that would open their minds to the possibilities. Experiences that would kindle a passion for cycling. Experiences that would open the door for a greater desire and willingness to participate and be included.
To that end, through my involvement with NICA and more specifically MICL , I've had the opportunity to connect with young people and play my part in helping them to develop the life long habit of cycling. A habit which they can enjoy well into their golden years with lots of benefits to themselves and the environment. One which could gain them access to post secondary education outside of the typical sports of basketball, football and track.
Through participation in MICL, youth are able to challenge themselves and develop into young adults who are up to the task of dealing with the many challenges that will await them in adulthood. Outside of developing their self confidence and self esteem, I see the relationships that youth create with one another through the bike. One of the coaches mentioned that she loves to see the youth chat with one another at the start of a race. Each of them helping the other to deal with pre-race jitters and creating an environment of good sportsmanship. A trait that will serve them well outside of cycling. A characteristic that will contribute to their own future openness and inclusion of others not like themselves. An inoculation to ignorance which has reared its ugly head for far too long and prevents understanding and empathy for ones fellow woman and man.
I don't believe it is a stretch to say that if we intend to break through and have greater representation, we will need to widen the pool. Not ever child that rides a bike will aspire to compete on a semi-pro or professional level. That isn't the sole goal. However, in order to increase the amount of women and BIPOC competitors we will have to cultivate and tend to our field by providing those special occasions for growth and maturation.
Experiential education lays the seeds for the future!