24 October 2017

You Really Can Go Places On A Bike. They Would Know.

I don't get to Philadelphia very often.  It's not New York snobbery or any other sort of disdain that keeps me from going to The City of Brotherly Love:  I simply haven't much occasion to take a trip there.

Still, it seems someone there is listening to me. ;-) At least, that person heard me say, "You can really go places on a Bicycle."

That person may have been in charge Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling.  That program, previously known as Cadence Youth Cycling, began in 2007 by Ryan Oelkers and former Philadelphia Flyers president Jay Snider.  The Bicycle Coalition took it over in 2013.  Through its decade of service, it has used cycling as a way to teach healthy habits, independence and leadership to high school students.

BCYC offers a scholarship fund for deserving athletes.  One of this year's recipients is Tamia Santiago, an 18-year-old freshman studying computer science at Drexel University.  She says the award "really wasn't about the money."  As a member the BCYC Youth Advisory Committee, she traveled to bicycle summits nationally in addition to participating in Youth Cycling's Race, Triathlon and Cyclocross teams.

Tamia Santiago

The program, she says, helped her in "knowing that there are challenges out there" and that "if you don't attack them, you will never get stronger."  On her college application, she wrote, "My bike is not an object but a tool to build a better me and a better future."

Krystal Philson might have said something similar.  Like Santiago, she is an 18-year-old freshman--at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.  The program, she says, is "about more than just riding your bike."  It has been an agent for change in her life--actually, in her self:  "It definitely made me a more outgoing person."

Krystal Philson

No doubt that quality came in handy when Ms. Philson attended her first gala and took her first plane ride, both as a result of participating in the Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling program.  Like Ms. Santiago, she is going places on--and because of--her bike.

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