ELKIN — A new program in Elkin is connecting kids with the great outdoors via trail rides on bicycles. Elkin resident Mary Keller has established a chapter of the national non-profit Trips for Kids. The group’s mission is to “provide transformative cycling experiences through a network of chapters that promote healthy, recreational lifestyles, environmental awareness, and personal empowerment for young people of all communities, especially those most in need.”
Keller said her enjoyment of taking her own kids and their friends on trail bike rides is part of what inspired her to bring the program to Elkin. The idea further came to fruition after several local marches associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Keller said the marches, which brought together area residents of different races, inspired her to think of “more concrete ways to level the playing field” for all area children, regardless of background.
The Trips for Kids program provides the bikes and leads excursions for children on bike trails. The Elkin chapter offered its first ride on the gravel trail at Elkin Municipal Park in November of 2020 through a partnership with the Elkin Global Learning Academy.
Keller said it was the first time some of the students had been on a bike trail ride.
“It was really exciting and I can’t wait to do more,” Keller said.
Pam Colbert, director of Global Studies with Elkin City Schools, said it was a wonderful experience for the students.
“I was so happy to partner with Trips for Kids and offer a social event for our 5th-8th graders,” said Colbert. “It was a beautiful fall day with perfect temperatures. Some students needed bikes and some needed helmets, which were provided by Trips for Kids. One of the students who participated had never ridden a bike. It was wonderful to watch as the patient volunteers helped an older student master bike riding. We are planning to do another ride in the spring. We are fortunate to have Trips for Kids to facilitate riding and help our students learn to take advantage of the wonderful trails in Elkin.”
Keller said the group has received donations of bikes and will also receive five trail bikes through the national Trips for Kids organization, hopefully by spring. The group was also recently awarded a grant from the Chatham Foundation.
In the coming year Keller said she hopes to offer monthly trail rides through partnerships with area school, scout or youth groups. Trail rides will typically be held at Elkin Municipal Park but Keller said a longterm goal would be to offer excursions to other area bike trails.
For more information about Trips for Kids, email email@example.com or find Trips for Kids Elkin Valley on Facebook and Instagram.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.