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How You Can Help: Youth Organizations

By: USA Cycling  March 21, 2020

Youth organizations are the future of the cycling community. Across America, many wonderful people have harnessed their passion for cycling and made it their mission to spread the joy of our sport to the next generation. By volunteering time and resources, they strive to get more kids on bikes nationwide.

These programs are about more than just riding a bike and winning races. For many kids, cycling with these groups is the best part of their day. Participation helps them chase adventure, stay healthy and active, establish friendships, and build character. If it weren’t for these programs, many children would not have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike or try their first race.

These youth organizations rely heavily on donations, both monetary and in-kind (bikes and gear). These groups also host fundraising events and use the proceeds to cover the cost for children and teens to participate. This support is critical for the survival and growth of these programs.

As with many other groups, youth organizations have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without funds and other donations, they can’t continue to function, limiting options for many kids. At the moment, many clubs are relying on Zwift to keep kids on bikes and help the participants stay connected, but not everyone has the resources to access virtual riding. Another concern is that without these programs actively running each week, many kids won’t be able to get out to ride because they aren’t old enough to ride solo and their parents don’t ride. And as more regions move to shelter-in-place restrictions, outdoor riding stops being an option.

While there are constraints now around riding and group gatherings, there are still ways you can help youth organizations weather this crisis. Right now, the main focus of youth organizations is keeping kids engaged, but once the COVID-19 threat passes, these groups will be scrambling to get the equipment and funds needed to get kids together riding again. If youth organizations can’t survive the impacts of this tough time, thousands of kids may never get on a bike again.

If you can, please consider donating money, bikes, or gear. Those wheels you’re not using, that trainer gathering dust in your garage, the bike your teenager hasn’t touched – these things can make a difference to a child excited about riding but struggling to buy the tools needed to participate. When we’re back to riding together, consider volunteering your time with a local youth group. While much in the world is uncertain now, we can come together today to ensure the future of cycling is safe.

There are hundreds of great groups supporting youth cycling across America and they need your help. To find one to support or if you are a youth cycling organization in need, contact Liz Kollar, Director of Youth and Collegiate Development at lkollar@usacycling.org. Let’s work together to get America’s young riders back out on two wheels when the time comes.