Since I first learned to ride my rusty yellow banana bike at age 12, I was absolutely hooked on cycling…I’m happiest when I’m on my bike, whether it’s commuting through city streets, mountain biking on single tracks, or taking a leisurely ride through the many park trails this beautiful city has to offer.

My first wheels made a huge difference in my life, and I believe that a bike can have a direct impact on a child’s sense of freedom, self-esteem and mobility.  For a child living in vulnerable neighbourhoods, a bike can mean a whole new world.  A bike makes it possible to go to clean and safe parks, go to a boys and girls club, or just have fun outdoors.  For a young person, a bike can be the means to part-time work, mentoring programs, and a university education.

So  many families simply cannot afford the luxury of a bike.  I started a project called My First Wheels in 2009 with one simple mission:  a bike for every child.

Through MFW, I have the privilege of meeting people who are dedicated to helping get kids up, out and on their own two wheels.   Parents, kids, volunteers in the cycling community, teachers, social workers, public health nurses, mentors, bike mechanics, athletes, bike shop and other small business owners…the list goes on.

Sometimes, I am lucky enough to see the expressions on kids’ faces when they receive a bike for the first time.  For kids not used to the idea of getting a bike, it usually starts with a mixed look of restrained hope and doubt…this is mine? to keep?  really? …then the joy.   Sometimes slowly in an uncertain grin, sometimes in a flash of big smiles, but always, the joy.

I’d like to share those inspiring stories with you here.

Len E.|