TULSA, Okla. — Twenty children form north Tulsa have graduated from a special BMX mentorship program called “RISE.”
It was launched for the first time this year and aimed to help kids learn, not just how to ride BMX, but also social skills and some history of Tulsa as well.
Thirteen-year-old Saloman Young was one of the graduates.
“I’ve learned to be respectful, kind,” Saloman said. “I’ve actually learned how to make friends; it’s been a-heck-of-a ride, I can tell you that.”
USA BMX along with the Terence Crutcher Foundation are behind this. The program kicked off on Juneteenth.
Since then, the boys and girls, ages 8 to 14, were taught to ride BMX by world champions. They also learned the history of Tulsa and the Greenwood District and were mentored by top Tulsa leaders.
President of USA BMX Shane Fernandez said the kids have come a long way in a short time.
“They started off apprehensive and nervous and no confidence,” Fernandez said. “Some of them couldn’t ride bikes and here they are riding side by side with Olympians.”
The program is called “RISE,” which stands for “Resiliency, Inclusion, Social Awareness and Education.”
The kids got to keep their bikes and kit after the graduation as well.
“I wanna see them on riverside and Gathering Place and around Tulsa and just smile because this is the first wave of many to come,” Fernandez said.
Executive Director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation Tiffany Crutcher said it has given a big boost to the north Tulsa community.
“So many times our kids are just sort of going into football or basketball, but to expose them to another sport that builds resilience, that builds their social awareness and confidence, I never thought in a million years that our kids would have some thing right in their back yard that they can be a part of and so it’s definitely a godsend for the north Tulsa community and the community of Greenwood,” Crutcher said.
Three of the children have been chosen to enter the Grand National BMX Championship next week and were given their own special bike.
Salomon is one of the chosen participants and he said he is excited.
“I think it’s gonna be fun I think,” Saloman said. “It’s gonna be a good way to test out how good I am how far I’ve come how good I’ve gotten and my resilience.”
The program has been so successful, five other cities across the U.S. now want to do a similar program.
And in Tulsa, USA BMX and the Terence Crutcher Foundation are already planning to launch the program again with another class of children next year.
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