TULSA, Okla — In honor of Juneteenth, the USA BMX Foundation in conjunction with the Terrence Crutcher Foundation and other partners launched a new 6-month mentorship and education program for underserved youth.
This is a pilot program that will expand to other cities next year. The program is called RISE, which stands for resiliency, inclusion, social awareness, and education.
The RISE program is a 6-month mentorship and education program where twenty kids will build a bike, receive coaching from BMX professionals, meet community leaders, and industry influencers.
Shardell Davis' 9-year-old son, Landon, is in the program. She said she's grateful he was chosen to be part of it.
“I’m from the area and growing up you know all the neighborhood kids we rode bikes but to be able to get the opportunity to actually be trained by professionals and then among this community, it’s just not heard of so he just had to be apart of it", Davis said.
She is hoping her son gains confidence through this program.
There will be two classes per month, in each class, there will be a different mentor coming to work with the group.
Shane Fernandez, President of USA BMX, said, “The coach of the US Olympic Team is coming to talk to the kids about building teams. Danny Boy O'Connor, you know the entertainer, he’s going to talk about why Tulsa is important to him. So we are bringing in collaboration from around the state and even Oklahoma City Thunder to give different perspectives for the kids."
In the first session, one of the mentors was an X-Games pro who spoke to them and gave them a demonstration on tricks. It was that moment when Davis saw her son start to enjoy the class.
“He got excited when the guy started doing tricks. And so I’m like okay come on now. So he did like that part," Davis said.
Fernandez also saw the spark in the kids during the demonstration.
“I recognize that smile and you know you see the excitement you see the apprehension. Because they're like this guy just did a bunny hop tail whip which most people don’t know what it is but that’s really hard to do," Fernandez said.
The kids were also given helmets and journals to write about their experiences in the class as it goes.
“I cannot wait till the graduation ceremony in November to hear their story and what they learned through all of this," Fernandez said.
Davis hopes her son decides to take things further after the class ends.
“I’m hoping he actually gets into BMX. I’m very athletic so yeah I’m the one that watched on TV and I was like oh my god I wish I could do that. So you know we live vicariously through our kids so we’ll just see what he wants to do," Davis said.
In the next session, the kids will assemble their own bikes and start to ride them.
At the end of the program in November, three kids will be picked to continue BMX training and be entered into the Grand National Championship during Thanksgiving week as Team Crutcher.
The BMX Foundation plans to launch this program in other cities in the upcoming years.
For youth who weren't able to be a part of the 2022 session, the BMX Foundation is already signing kids up for the 2023 session. Plus President Fernandez said scholarships are available to join BMX summer camps.
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