IRC youth all smiles at bike event
The late summer sun shone down on a row of brand new children’s bicycles. Slowly, the children that would be receiving these bicycles arrived, gathering in front of them. In celebration of its new partnership with Right to Play, the Specialized First Gear Initiative was donating 12 new bicycles to refugee children. The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective also brought 9 bicycles to give away. Excited children squirming with anticipation filed in, eager eyes fixed on that row as the event began.
After a round of thoughtful speeches by representatives of Specialized and Right to Play, IRC in Salt Lake City Executive Director Patrick Poulin and celebrity athlete Picabo Street, the children were invited to come to the front and claim their bike. They clambered up from their seats, some racing ahead while others shyly made their way forward.
As soon as their helmets were on, the children sped off to try out their new wheels. Some wobbled and faltered at first but with a little assistance and practice they rapidly gained confidence. Proud parents watched their children relishing their new bicycles, some unable to resist trying out the tiny bikes themselves. The atmosphere was absolutely jovial as the children zipped around, learning to stop, yield and cross intersections safely on a practice course set up in the Specialized parking lot.
Thanks to the generous donation from Specialized and the SLC Bicycle Collective and signatures by Ms. Street, a total of 21 refugee youth were given a bike, helmet and autographed water bottle to call their very own. The children were also leaving that day with a little bit of independence, as well as a new way to experience their new hometown and have some fun. The smiles on the children’s faces as they left the event were testament to the joy community collaboration can create.
Sarah Callicutt, IRC in Salt Lake City’s donations coordinator and a primary organizer of the event, summarized beautifully, “It is not often that the donors get to see the items being handed over. Being able to see the happy children was an incredible experience for everyone involved.”
Please visit the Velodramatic gallery to view images of the event.
By Barbara Roth, IRC Summer Intern