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Feb. 2013

b.i.k.e.-Syracuse has been busy registering 5 of our older bike riders for the National Interscholastic Association (NICA - New York) race scheduled in Westchester County in April. Our five bike members will be racing against other high school mountain bikers and other junior teams from all over New York. We also have a couple more races lined up for the summer, including another trip to the Black Fly Mountain Bike Race in June in the Adirondacks...

 

b.i.k.e.-Syracuse has worked out a deal with JA Spa in Marcellus to use the indoor bike trainers for training and getting our legs back and in shape for the race season! We also have worked out a deal with Ja Spa for one of their certified trainers to provide upper body strength training to the boys in addition to our bike training...Great stuff! Last night was our first training night...and it was a lot of fun. These boys were on spinners for an hour and half and never complained!! The boys are really taking their training seriously and I was pleasantly surprised. Emmanuel, one of our members, has been working very hard to lose weight for over a year. He is currently enrolled in the "Y" program downtown and works out three days a week after school. Emmanuel is also training with us and is determined to do the Black Fly MB Race this year in June. Emmanuel has dropped 35 pounds over the last year and his determination and discipline to lose the weight is beyond his years. Jen Griffin, a coach from Marcellus and Manager at Ja Spa commented on his enthusiasm last night while training. We are very proud of Emmanuel and we are supporting his efforts!! After training for two hours, last night, we stopped at Subway on the way home...although we did talk about "recovery foods" a bit.......I was pleasantly surprised hearing the boys talking among themselves - asking each other what type of sub should they get that was more healthy and which type of sub would help them recover better.....The boys, without any prompting, opted for subs without cheese and spinach on their turkey instead of lettuce and apple slices instead of bags of chips...and orange juice and milk!! They never asked my opinion nor did I have to say a word! They did it all on their own....

Good Day! Just a note to update everyone on b.i.k.e.-Syracuse's activities.

Saturday was a special day...after Lynasia and Niheshia organized and assisted with breakfast duty, Meghan, Sherry, Kat and Larry took 15 of our kids over to Cranx Bike Park in E. Syracuse. The Parks and Rec Department provided the bus and Larry took us over to the Bike Park. ....There, the owner Dale, and his Staff hosted b.i.k.e.-Syracuse to a wonderful day of cross country and BMX biking! We decided to use Cranx's bikes instead of loading up our trailer with our bikes...and I am glad that we did that because some of the kids were able to try out the BMX bikes vs. the mountain bikes that we usually ride. This is a great indoor biking park. I know, the words "indoor" and "biking" used in the same sentence do not conjure up fuzzy feelings for bikers..But, after walking through the park with one of the Staff and having that person describe the engineering that went into the safety for the routes.....and then riding the course ..I was pleasantly surprised.....and our kids LOVED it!! From a coaching perspective.... for technical skills... this park is perfect!! The obstacles are much like what you encounter on trails in cross country mountain biking. The balance beams enabled our riders to work on their balance skills and I was able to shadow a rider like Omar, watching his line and talking him through the obstacles...By the end of the day, Omar was riding the balance beams, no problem and dropping his back tire off some pretty steep drops (instead of trying to go front wheel first) and had a lot more confidence in his riding ability....Teaching skills like these in the woods (if you can find a "natural "safe" drop and "balance beam") with 15 other kids riding is nearly impossible.........but at the Park..it was doable and fun! Meghan rode with the younger kids allowing them to push their skills to the next level and by the end of the day, I was watching Lee Lee ride the low balance beam!! The Park lay out also enabled me to keep an eye on everyone...making sure that kids did not ride a line that was clearly above their abilities. I did come up on two young girls, that just joined our club, looking at a downhill that they were completely unsure they could ride....after a bit of discussion about what they were feeling and their biking skills, they decided to turn it around and try a smaller downhill (without letting them know...I let out a sigh!!)...but the park layout makes it easy to police situations like this.......

Sherry and Larry rode for a while enjoying the beginner cross country course that the Park has for those riders not interested in dropping or jumping!

 

Frances, one of our 11 year olds, excelled at BMXing, impressing the Staff with what he learned from them in just a short amount of time....One of the biking Staff told me that Frances should think about the BMXing camp they have, as Frances was demonstrating some true talent!!
The kids rode for 2 1/2 straight hours with no breaks.....how is that for exercise?
After lunch (yes, we could eat right at the park in the "party room") we traveled back to Skiddy Park...but very reluctantly.....and I will comment that I may have been the oldest rider on the course...but riding a bike and volunteering with these kids keep me young! Rage against Age, I say! Exercise...it just feels good!
b.i.k.e.-Syracuse would like to thank you for taking time to read about our outings and activities. We hate to ask for money, but please keep in mind that while businesses, like Cranx Bike Park gave us a price break, activities like these are expensive and donations from the community is what allows us to keep going....We appreciate every dollar we get and with a donation to our non profit, every dollar you provide goes into activities like this one or the food that we provide for breakfast and lunch.......We have very little overhead so your money is spent directly on food and programming for the kids that you are reading about.....!! Thank you for your support!
See Facebook for some wonderful pictures..enjoy the picture here of Frances!!
Kat

 

June 2012 - Some testimonials from the kids:

One boy at his H.S.  graduation.....when I gave him a hug to congratulate him, he said in my ear "thank you for caring about me".....

 Later on he said to me "you guys never gave up on me, even when I gave you a lot of trouble.  I thought about dropping out a couple of times, but then I remembered the bike club and all of you always saying "get your education" and then I thought of my mom and how mad she would be at me...and I just kept going".....

A girl wrote:

“I like going to bike club because we do fun things together. And we are like family because we all make peace with each other.  Also because Ms. Quinn and the other volunteers are wonderful to me and they treat me with respect and I do the same.   …I want it to be bike club every year.”

===

Savannah's tumor in her leg was discovered when she became pregnant with her son.  Due to her pregnancy, Savannah could not have chemo because of the pregnancy....and she actually chose not to end the pregnancy to have the chemo, knowing that this decision might end her life.  How many of us would make this choice?  How many of us at the age of 15 would make this choice? 

Savannah lost the gamble and passed away after receiving one bout of chemo when her son was born.  The cancer had spread too quickly. 

 I'm telling you this story because I received a phone call from Diane Ogno, the school counselor, at Blodgett  today.  The day after Savannah died, Diane went to the home of Savannah.  The grandparents told Diane, as soon as she got there, that I was to be told about Savannah so I could let everyone at bike know...Diane also told me that the grandparents said that Savannah specifically asked for her grandparents to tell me. 

 I will be stopping by Savannah's home today.....I am bringing a baby gift for her son....from b.i.k.e.

So...please take a moment ......a deep breath......and know that you touched a young girl so deeply that she thought of you..of us .....as she was saying her final goodbyes....

 I was so moved by Diane's phone call.....Yah...we're making a difference...but for me...this club is a testament to the power of relationships.....of human compassion and love.....I have learned so much from the children and I continue to learn....like now...., some incredible lessons about life, love and relationships....Don't take your relationship with these children lightly.....If you spend time with them, they will come to love you ...and is there anything more important in life than human relationships, love and compassion?

 

June 2012

We had a quick breakfast at the park before piling into the parks bus and heading out to Amberations.  We had a pretty small group, I think about 9 kids, plus Bob, Red, bus driver Larry, and myself.  We were welcomed by Gloria of Amberations and the new puppy,  Nero.  Gloria provided a cooler of water for us, and asked if we wanted to help dig some post holes and move some aged manure/compost- most of the kids enthusiastically helped out, while some petted the animals, and others hung out at the playground.  Who knew post hole digging could be so fun?  (Side note- the water that Gloria provided was flavored with mint and lemon, which received mixed reviews from the kids.  At one point, one of the kids was loudly complaining about it while Gloria was nearby, and to my surprise, Frances, in his hyper-active way, scolded, saying “Man, how can you be so rude?!  Complainin about stuff this lady made for us!” I honestly couldn’t believe my ears)

When the work was done, we hiked up the trail, over the hill to the ravine.  All of the kids except Nahesha, who was not feeling well went down into the ravine.  Red and Nahesha returned to the barn to help Gloria with lunch.  The rest of us walked down the creek to a swimming hole.  The kids were great, they learned about water striders from Larry, and some were not initially fond of the feel of the creek bottom on their bare feet, but got used to it soon enough.  After swimming we walked back to where our shoes were, and though they didn’t want to, we eventually got everyone to hike back.  Gloria provided a delicious lunch of spanakopita, Texas caviar (bean salsa), and hot dogs.  The kids were pretty good at trying everything out, I think we discovered a few fans of Greek food amongst us; of course, Enmannuel’s suggestion for improving the recipe was “More feta, less spinach”.  Gloria told us how the eggs used in the spanakopita were from the chickens that were wandering around the yard- to which Nigeria responded by refusing to eat any more spanakopita, because the idea of it grossed her out.  It’s amazing how disconnected we’ve become from the source of our food.

We thanked Gloria and boarded the bus to return to Skiddy Park- I think we all could agree it was a great day. 

May 2012

Last Saturday our group rode our bikes from Skiddy Park up to Split Rock for some off road mountain biking.  After our breakfast in the park......19 kids and Bob, Kat, Meg and Rick Schenosky (met us there) rode up for a beautiful day of single track and trail riding.  We had a lot of fun and it was a beautiful day.  This was our first "long" ride of the riding season and the kids were a bit tired on the way home..but we stopped for ice cream on the way back which made us all feel better.  Okay..we do have some "junk" food now and then!!  When we arrived at the park, we put away our equipment and the kids could be heard commenting on their day and how well they rode.....It was a pretty good day.....

 

 

 

 

May 3rd

A note from one of the young ladies who graduated from the club:

 

I've been with this club since day 1. I was 14 when I started and now I'm 21 and I've been here through thick and thin and ups and downs and I can say Thanks to B.I.K.E Syracuse I am a better person and more humane and I just want to say that you've helped me (all the volunteers) especially Mrs. Quinn she's helped me through a lot of problems I've had and now I'm a good mother and going to achieve my goals for furthering my education

 

 

April

 

Rise Up, the live call in show, will officially launch May 5 airing
every Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m. Nelson serves as the show’s creator and
organizer while Jus Mic from Power am 620 will moderate. She said she
wants the show to give voice to the youth and give them an opportunity
to express what is going on in their community

 

.b.i.k.e.-Syracuse members, Jeffrey and Emmanuel Mateo along with Kat Quinn were
guests on the first show that will air on May 5th with shows every
Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 

April 23, 2012

b.i.k.e.-Syracuse Members accepted an invitation from the Onondaga Cycling Club to help them in their Earth Day Clean Up efforts in N. Syracuse on Caughdenoy Road. 17 children and 2 Youth Volunteers, (Jeffrey and Imeen) and 7 Adults (Larry Adams, Meghan Miller, Red Donzella, Ben Donzella, Chris Janjic and his friend Alex (SU Students) and Kat Quinn all attended the event. We picked up 8 huge trash bags full of trash along the road, picking up such items as a hub cap and chair covers. It rained the entire time, but that didn't stop the kids from working....We were all very proud of the members and how hard they worked....since we couldn't reward our members with a bike ride due to the rain.....we decided to head over to the Dinosaur BBQ for a great lunch...Mrs. Quinn gave in on the soda orders....**sigh**...but we all had a great "bonding lunch" ....It was even more special when Imeen, one of the Youth Volunteers looked at me and asked why were not saying grace before we all ate...I asked him if he would lead the grace and he gladly accepted, insisting that everyone at the table join hands.....for me it was one of those "ah ha" moments...A moment when you are touched by something you just can't explain.......we all bowed our heads and Imeen said grace.....Afterwards, I had a man that was eating at a table near us come up afterwards and comment to me on how wonderful it was to see all of us together, holding hands and saying grace ....Imeen was sitting next to me hearing every word this man said. Imeen simply smiled and said thank you. Okay....that life lesson, you just can't teach or mentor.....

It is the kids and the Volunteers that make this club a place I look forward to spending my Saturday mornings!!

 

 

2/29/2012

 

Red, Bob and Kat attended the Marcellus School Volunteer Fair for non profit organizations around Onondaga County. It was a success  we may have picked up a couple of Youth Volunteers and at least 4 teachers stopped by to say that they were also interested in volunteering time. We handed out over 150 flyers.

The most rewarding part of the day, for me, was when I was stopped in the bathroom by a woman from the Salvation Army who told me that they had heard about b,i.k.e.-Syracuse and that we have a wonderful reputation in the neighborhood. She also commented that she has heard wonderful things about the work that we do with kids and thanked us for that work. It was very nice to hear.

 

On our table, Red had brought a helmet and bike shoes, we had our b.i.k.e.-Syracuse banner and we had a great slide show on a big Dell Monitor (with awesome pictures thanks to Elisabeth and Patrick) and our booth looked, for once, professional!! Red and Bob did a great job of networking with other organizations and attracting folks to talk about volunteering for our program.....I also learned of a few organizations right on the doorstep of Marcellus that offer outdoor activities for kids...one of those organizations is Amberations on Amber Road. They are open year round and have a petting zoo and walking trails and upper trails that they said would be wonderful to mountain bike in the summer. they have been trying to attract kids from the City to the farm. I am going to try to hook up with them for this weekend.....it might be a great outing for you all on Saturday....I'll let you know what I find out tomorrow.

Another organization is Orenda Springs in Marcellus. . This facility promotes hanging children upside down in waist harnesses. (I did ask their representative, John, today if there were full body harnesses available at this facility and there are, but they don't use them??? Full body harnesses are made specifically for upside down rope experiences)...

The Orenda Springs representative, John, was quite friendly and understood my concern and said that he would put our kids in full body harnesses if that is what we requested... He did go on to say that they have mountain biking trails and we are welcome to the trails. I did tell him that we would try to make it up there this summer. As soon as the weather breaks, I will go down, reintroduce myself and try out the trails.....I'll keep you all informed....

 

 

February15,  2012

 

This past Saturday 25 of our members had our usual breakfast at St. Lucy's. Bob, Red, Kat, Jeffrey and Pebbles were on hand to chaperone.....While eating breakfast around the table, we had a wonderful discussion about Bullying. The discussion began when Red brought up the subject through a newspaper article she brought in from the newspaper about bullying and the NY Law that was passed and will take effect 7/1/2012. Schools will be held accountable and must demonstrate that they have a program in place to address bullying in the school. We discussed the seriousness of bullying. We asked, by a show of hands, how many had been bullied in school (almost everyone raised their hand) and then we asked how many had been the ones doing the bullying (which about 1/2 of the kids raised their hands)...we discussed what bullying is and how it can hurt, not only physically, but emotionally/mentally as well. One of the kids mentioned that he had heard how a child had committed suicide due to bullying and we talked a little bit about that. The message that we left the children with was clear: Bullying will no longer be tolerated in schools and we certainly do not tolerate it in b.i.k.e.-club. Anyone caught bullying will be suspended and if the behavior continues, they could be suspended indefinitely from our program. We explained that there are Rules that everyone must follow in school, at home and in public in order to be successful in life and this is one of those Rules. We discussed different levels of bullying and how no level of bullying is okay.....We also discussed what the kids should do if they are bullied. It was a great discussion and almost all the children contributed to the conversation. After our discussion, we went ice skating at Clinton Square...one of our favorite winter activities. the Parks and Rec Department provides the skates and use of the rink free to our club and we so appreciate the gesture. Without the discount, we could not afford to do this wonderful activity as regularly as we do. So, we thank the Parks and Rec Department and Rocky, who runs the ice skating program for the Parks and Rec Department. We so appreciate the opportunity! This year, one of our b.i.k.e. members, Jeffrey, graduated out of our program due to his age. However, Jeffrey is remaining on in our program as a Youth Volunteer. Jeffrey has demonstrated positive leadership and the kids really look up to him. Jeffrey took his new role seriously, Saturday, when one of the younger members of b.i.k.e. (and the newest challenge for the Volunteers with regard to discipline) began acting out. Jeffrey stepped right in....asked me if he could take Francis for a walk and talk to him.....I agreed, and whatever happened in that walk was miraculous as Francis came back to the group with a much different attitude!!

 

Pebbles, also, has continued volunteering as a Youth/Adult Volunteer for her second year. Pebbles recently obtained a job at Subway and she approached us to get permission to discuss a discount for our lunches with her Boss. As a result of that discussion, we now get a discount on healthy subway sandwiches for lunch! Pebbles makes all the arrangements for the sandwiches and accompanies me when we pick them up. It is obvious that her Boss appreciates the business and Pebbles is very proud of having made the connection.....and we get a great discount!! Win - Win - Win!!

The Youth Volunteers have provided a communication bridge between the adult volunteers and the members in a very positive way. Saturday demonstrated this....Our members had a great time and so did the Volunteers...!

 

As a side note to the positive behavior Saturday.....In the past I have had to forego the skating to keep an eye on both the rink and the building as the other volunteers skated with the kids and watched the rink. This past Saturday was an exception. Guynell voiced it perfectly when he came up to me and handed me a pair of size 8 skates (I don't know how he guessed my size???) and told me that I could skate now with him because "nobody is getting into trouble and Jeffrey and Ms. Red are watchin' the kids in the building, anyways!!" So I had no excuse, put on the skates and skated with Guynell....I had a great time!

 

Two Saturdays we traveled to the Carousel Mall and sold candy bars....Jeffrey, Ms. Red, and myself continue to sell the candy bars for fundraising and Jeffrey, Ms. Red and I have already sold one box each!

We'll continue to sell until they are all gone!

 

This week we do not have b.i.k.e.-club, (we are currently on an "every other Saturday" schedule, but we do have bike club next week. We plan to travel to Skaneateles to the YMCA to swim....

 

 

Oc t, 8 2011

 

This week/Saturday, b.i.k.e.-Syracuse is riding at Green Lakes for the 3rd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Ride!!

 

Oct 1, 2011

 

Good Day! b.i.k.e.-Syracuse's activity last weekend did not include riding our bikes - thanks to fall raindrops..... :( However, a little rain did not stop us!! Instead, we decided to walk up to the Zoo at Burnet Park for a day with the animals.....

 

After breakfast, consisting of breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, milk, juice, fresh fruit, hummus and rice crackers.....Bob, Helen, Meghan, Red, Hobit and I walked 18 children up to the Zoo. Red and I had to leave early, so the volunteers broke the children up into four groups and each volunteer, Bob, Helen, Hobit and Meghan took a group of 3-4 kids. Please see below for each of the volunteers synopsis of their experience with their group of children.

 

 

Below are the comments from each volunteer of their day, with their group, at the zoo.....(for pictures of the zoo trip go to our web site at www.bikesyracuse.org or Facebook: bikeSyracuse

 

Helen Writes:

I was with Teetee, Aisha (spelling?) and Pebbles. I really enjoyed being in the small group. Teetee and Aisha decided they wanted to see the outdoor animals first, so they could have the pleasure of coming in later and getting warm. They were fascinated by the snow leopard’s tail (as was I), the penguins, the tigers (including three cubs), and some of the fish and lizards. It was fun watching them enjoy the animals. I think the highlight for them was watching the penguins swim underwater, and then “training” the penguins to follow their hands as they moved them along the glass!

The walk home was more challenging, particularly as Teetee and Aisha were horsing around with a few of the boys. It was also somewhat chaotic, as different people wanted to peel off and go home, since we were nearby. I think a few of them tried to play me off of Mr. D, saying he said they could go ahead and go home. I wonder if it would be better to have a policy that everyone goes back to the park, no matter where they live and how close we are?

Helen

Bob Writes:

My group was adamant that they weren't going outside at the Zoo as it was cold & raining. However, after viewing the inside exhibits, we donned our plastic ponchos & headed out. The weather was actually ideal as the animals that usually hide in the shade were very active. We saw both the white wolf & the red wolves that are seldom seem. The kids were enthralled by the snow leopard who was prancing back & forth in his enclosure & by the Amur (Siberian) tiger & her 3 cubs. The walk back was trying as most returns usually are, but it was overall a good day.

Meghan Writes:

I had a great day with Kaya, Kameil and Nahela. They were all very enthusiastic to look at all of the exhibits, so we took our time, actually reading the signs posted at the exhibits. It was the perfect rainy/chilly day activity, as we still spent some time outside, but were able to go back inside as soon as we got chilled. It was so nice to be able to have a small group of kids who all wanted to look at the exhibits together. It’s been great having more volunteers so that we can have smaller groups for activities like this. I think we had about 2 hours to look at the exhibits, which was perfect. Of course right after lunch before we left there was some acting up, because they wanted to go look at the indoor exhibits more rather than wait for everyone to finish eating, but all in all it was a great day!

Thank you for your support!

 

Sept. 24, 2011

This past Saturday was a good day......However, the day started out questionable...but by the end...WOW! We know now, through experience, that if the kids are in high energy when we get to bike club in the morning, that we are in for a stressful and difficult day with the kids..

 

These stressful days have our volunteers questioning whether or not we are making a difference and whether or not they want to continue on volunteering...However, every now and then.....something happens that makes us realize that these stressful days are really the best bike club days spent with the children. In fact, when asked what I like best about volunteering my time with b.i.k.e, I tell folks that I love the days when the kids act up...., because those are the days that I really get an opportunity to apply what I have learned through Ruby Payne's Bridges Out of Poverty, and make a difference.........Let me explain:

 

This past Saturday, b.i.k.e.-Syracuse registered for the ALS walk at the Inner Harbor supporting research for individuals with ALS. This ALS walk holds a soft spot in b.i.k.e.-Syracuse's heart. As you may or may not know, Paul Swinburne, a volunteer with b.ik.e.-Syracuse lost his battle with ALS a year ago. I also have another friend and colleague, Mark, who has ALS. Our walk was to honor Paul's memory and support Mark. I was hoping to have the chance to introduce the children to Mark at the walk.

 

After a discussion about Paul Swinburne and a reminder of the Rules for the ALS walk, we informed all 18 children that that Mr. D. would not be at bike club due to a family commitment. We also informed them that Ben would be at bike club after taking the summer off and Meghan would be there after taking the month of September off. In addition, we informed the children that there would be 2 new volunteers, Mary Helen McNeal, who was joining us for the first time and Hobit, who had only participated with bike club for a couple of weeks. Red and I also were there to help out.....

 

 I knew, before I made the announcements about the status of the volunteers, that this would trigger anxiety and high emotions from the children. Abandonment, and the emotions triggered by feelings of abandonment, are very real for some of our kids....Some of our children live in households where dads and moms and significant others come and go and the children tell you their story, never knowing if the adult will be back or not. We have also had families in our club move 3 and 4 times in one year from house to house, apartment to apartment due to adults up and leaving the household. These "abandonment buttons are pushed" every time a volunteer leaves for any period of time, or a volunteer comes back after taking a lot of time off or a new volunteer comes in to help...(the children "test" new volunteers to determine if they are going to stay or leave). Of course, the ages of the children make it more difficult to articulate these feelings and instead, they act out their anxiety on each other and with the volunteers. When we have this heightened energy, the day can be a pretty intense and stressful.... We have learned, however, through the training that Bridges Out of Poverty provides, how to recognize these emotions in the children and how to respond to the children's anxiety and reassure them which does help to reduce the stress level.

 

b.i.k.e.-Syracuse would like to thank Mark, his family and friends for sharing their time with our kids. Thank you very much for the t-shirts that the kids wore home proudly (over their bike jerseys!!) You made a difference with our children and we so thank you for the life lesson provided.

Thank you to the volunteers, Mary, Meghan, Hobit, Ben, and Red, that came out to help .....I hope you will agree with me that the most stressful days of bike club are really the best days.....the best "teachable moments".....

Thanks for your support....enjoy the pictures

 

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