Living Streets Alliance and BICAS are excited to be sponsoring a diverse, passionate, and community-minded group of youth and activists from Tucson’s south side to attend the Youth Bike Summit in Washington D.C. this October. Individuals who are part of the Tucson delegation have been involved with various community initiatives in Tucson south side neighborhoods including organizing youth bike clubs, growing community gardens, and other sustainability-centered work. Many of them are also members of the Big Jump Leadership Team, an initiative to increase bicycling rates in south side Tucson over the next few years. This is one of the largest youth delegations from Tucson ever to attend the annual summit, and they are excited to explore how bicycles could be a way to create positive social change in their neighborhoods.
The Youth Bike Summit is an annual three-day national conference bringing together educators, activists, students, teens, and community leaders to network and learn from each other. During the workshops, many of the presentations are led by youth as they discuss how access to transportation and mobility through bicycles supports the health, development, and empowerment of young people.
Members of the South Tucson delegation easily articulate what they hope to gain from the experience and many of them have expressed that they see bicycles as a way to build community. Gene Martinez, a 19-year old from the John Valenzuela Youth Center explains, “I want to learn how do we form a community through riding bikes, and how can we connect with each other and our neighbors.”
And 21-year old Joselyn Macias who helps to lead a bike club in her neighborhood of Pueblo Gardens reiterates that sentiment, “I want to lean more about how other communities utilize biking to unite.”
Others in the delegation have expressed that they want to create opportunities for younger children in their community that they did not have growing up including access to bicycles and bicycle education. Estevan Gallego, a 16 year-old from Tucson High School helps to lead the Ochoa Bike Club and he explains why this work is important, “I was a child growing up not being able to ride my bike in the street…so I rode in circles in my front yard. And once my bike would get a flat, I would leave it to rust.”
The consensus among the delegation is that everyone is SO excited to use the summit as an opportunity to connect and learn from other youth here in Tucson, as well as other youth from around the U.S. As 14 year-old Itzel Macias enthusiastically articulates, “I want to meet new people with the same interests, and spread the bike love!”
While LSA is able to subsidize part of this trip, thanks to a grant from Vitalyst Health Foundation, we still need your help to make the trip possible. Please visit our donation page to help sponsor the South Tucson delegation!