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Ensuring A Voice For Youth: U Create Macon
In 2013, the League released “Engaging Youth In Bicycle Advocacy”, a case study on why youth bike and youth involvement in bicycle advocacy. A lot of the obstacles to youth engagement noted in the study, like a lack of bike accessibility and a disconnect between adults and youth when it comes to leadership, are still prevalent today. Many organizations, including the League itself, can better educate themselves on how to not only get more youth involved in biking but make sure young bicyclists feel recognized as an integral part of the bicycling movement.
As part of that work to listen, learn, and collaborate, we endeavored to hear from organizations made for youth and/or guided by youth to best answer the question of how to do this. In a continuing series, we'll learn more about these groups and their answers. In today's blog, meet makerspace U Create Macon.
U Create Macon
U Create Macon (UCM) is based in Macon and serves multiple counties in Georgia. Started in 2019, we give youths in the region an opportunity to "create" their future by placing an emphasis on youth guiding our programming. We have the first and only official youth affiliate of the Major Taylor Association in the world, A Trips for Kids chapter, a mountain bike team with Georgia Cycling and we provide youth bike rodeos, bike history tours, Earn A Bike, bike giveaway program (our goal is to be an official Free Bike for Kids by the end of the year) and so much more.
UCM is the catalyst that any kid that wants to bike...can. We furnish the bikes, gear, and everything that is needed to set them up for success. We are also working to get more BIPOC coaches trained. Our coaching team is diverse, just like our cycling club. It's important for people to see themselves in their coaches and we are intentional in our coaching recruitment to make that happen.
What would you like to see other groups, especially national organizations, doing to involve more youth in cycling?
Support, Support, Support! Youth organizations need a lot of support financially, from donations to joint grant applications, to really combat the inequality and diversity issues in getting more kids on bikes. Cycling is an adventure that allows kids to see life through a whole other lens and even helps with workforce development. Every child deserves accessibility.
Don’t underestimate kids! The kids in UCM not only can ride long rides (50 - 100 miles a day) but all the kids know their ABCs and how to do basic bike maintenance.
Volunteer! UCM is powered by dedicated volunteer coaches. Last year the coaches volunteered over 6,000 hours to support our program. We are on our way to having over 10,000 volunteer hours logged for the current year.
“Youth biking has transformed my community so we have seen the power of the possible firsthand. Getting more kids on bikes in all communities is possible and a goal that all of us working together can achieve.” - Charise Stephens, Founder of U Create Macon
To learn more about U Create Macon, visit www.ucreatemacon.com.
If you’re a youth group or cycling organization interested in sharing your tips for involving more youth in cycling, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!