Anniversary Post- Celebrating 6 years with Two Wheel View.

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WOW!  How can it be six years already?! I think I will always remember walking into the CommunityWise (Old Y) Building for my job interview, wondering if this would be my new home. I really didn’t know how my life would change that day.

Things that have changed:

  • There are more team members around our table. We’ve changed from three main staff and a few program facilitators to just Rick and I in the office to a team of five in the office, plus interns and a large crew of facilitators. We are able to do so much now and can say yes to opportunities that come our way!
  • Our office. We’ve been in three different rooms in the CommunityWise building since I started. We’ve also had about a million (only a small exaggeration really!) office reconfigurations. Rick likes to keep me on my toes by changing things around regularly. Luckily I don’t mind too much. There are some exciting new chapters on the way that I’m pretty excited. More on that soon!  
  • My confidence. Through the opportunity to make presentations and be part of the public face for TWV, I’ve become a more confident, self-assured person. TWV has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me the space to find one of my true passions: sharing the stories about the good work of non-profit organizations. The desperately shy little girl I once was would be shocked by the transformation.  This organization not only changes the life of young people in its programs but also its staff.
  • Pens. I no longer have to bring my own pens to work. We have a supply closet now. My pens still go missing (I blame my coworkers 🙂

Things that have stayed the same:

  • The culture of TWV. This organization still feels like a family to me and I hope that never goes away. I’ve met the most incredible people through my work here. People who genuinely care about making the world a better place.
  • The feeling I get when I see our participants earn their bikes in Bike Club. I will never forget the looks on their faces or when they say things like ‘You mean this is my bike? I get to take this home and keep it? This is the best day ever.’ or ‘The best thing about Bike Club is the people. They make me feel better here.’
  • The fact that I still love getting up every day (well almost… some days are cold… and early!) to come to work with this organization and this team. I’m convinced I’ve won the employment lottery.
  • Bike Mechanics. I’m definitely not a bike mechanic and will probably never be one. Thanks to my team for loving me anyway.

To all my past and present coworkers: Thank you for your hard work, your listening ears, your hugs and your passion for this crazy little thing we call Two Wheel View.

To all our champions: Thank you for believing in us and me. Your friendship, support and passion for changing the lives of children in your schools and communities is what keeps me going. I’m lucky to have so many of you as friends.

To all our donors: Thank you for being along the ride with us as we change kids’ lives from the seat of a bike. Your dollars (and bikes) are more than just dollars.

To Rick: Thanks for hiring me. I owe you more than I can ever repay.

Here’s to six years at Two Wheel View!

Cheers,

Laura

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Take Our Kids to Work Day 2016

20161102_123119We were thrilled to welcome Markos to Two Wheel View on Wednesday November 2nd as a part of Take Our Kids to Work Day 2016. This initiative by The Learning Partnership is meant to give youth the opportunity to explore careers and encourage them to stay in school to achieve their dreams.

Markos started the morning by working with our Program Director Madeleine in preparing for the Bike Programs for that day. As Madeleine speaks French, he was able to practice his French throughout the morning. He learned about teamwork, management and programming design and best practices.

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He then assisted Mike from our Bike Club facilitator team to get ready for programs. He learned more about the facilitators role and the bike programs we provide for youth. He helped to manage inventory and understand the needs of our organization and how we rely on donations to keep our programs running.

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He had the opportunity to sit with our Executive Director and learn more about that role- everything from finance to HR. Markos also had the opportunity to meet one of our board members to learn about their role in non-profit organizations and the responsibilities of a board member at Two Wheel View. He participated in donor stewardship as Rick took Markos to meet with one of our largest donors and learned more about the strategic partnerships that help us reach our vision of changing kids’ lives from the seat of a bike.

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Back at the office, Markos toured our office building, which is an incubator for changemakers, non-profit and community organizations. He learned about the history and values of our building, which is over 104 years old and used to house women moving to Calgary in the early 1900’s as a part of the YMCA. He met individuals from a wide variety of organizations and learned about how they are making a difference in our communities.

He assisted our volunteer program by helping with errands and data entry. Markos ended the day by biking home, as many staff in our organization do.

We look forward to participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day again next year! Thanks to Markos for all his help!

 

~ Laura

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The mechanics of Bike Club

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With our Bike Club in full swing, I thought those new to TWV might be wondering about how our Bike Club program works. Though each program is as unique as the youth in those clubs, each of our 19 Bike Clubs this year have a lot of commonalities. Let me ‘brake’ down the mechanics of Bike Club. (LOVE those bike puns!)

Opening Circle

Our opening circle is a place to check in with participants, learn more about them, hold discussions about the week’s themes and review the lesson’s learned from the previous week. Each week of Bike Club has two themes: a Bike Mechanics theme and a social-emotional learning theme. Many people are surprised to learn that our clubs are more than just greasy hands and fixing flat tires. We take this opportunity to connect with our participants about empathy, what it means to be a good community, leadership and responsibility.  Opening circles often ask participants to rate their day on a scale from one to ten and ask other questions like ‘what kind of music do you like?’ so that participants can build a community in their Bike Club, make new friends and realize that we really do have more similarities than differences.

 

Games and Snacks

 

This part of Bike Club is a chance to get into the right frame of mind for learning and teamwork. Our Bike Club snacks are powered by Clif Bar this year and we include a piece of fruit and a juice box with it. Modelling healthy eating is a part of setting the students up for success. To burn off that extra energy and to give our participants a chance to change gears (see… another bike pun… they are so easy!) from their school day, we play games. These games are usually focussed on one of our social-emotional learning themes or are another way we can get to know each other.

 

Demonstration

Now that we are ready, its on to the bike mechanics! Our facilitators will demonstrate the day’s lesson in a variety of ways and ask participants to be a part of the demo. I know I always learn a lot during this part of Bike Club! Each week we look at a different part of the bike from tires, brakes, chains, gears etc. Our program uses the SAFE model for strong youth programming by making sure our lessons are Sequenced, Active, Focussed and Explicit. We try to keep this part of the program short so that our Bike Clubbers have as much time as possible to get their hands on bikes!

 

 

Hands On!

Now for everyone’s favourite part – the hands-on learning component! One of the biggest strengths of our Bike Club program is that participants get a lot of time to discover bike mechanics for themselves. They are troubleshooting problems, communicating with one another and learning all kinds of valuable life skills including which tool is best for which job. When I ask the participants what they liked most about Bike Club, they always the people they’ve gotten to meet in Bike Club but a close second is the bike mechanics part.

 

Closing Circle

In our closing circle, we recap the lessons learned and talk more about our social-emotional learning topic of the day. We let the participants in on what to expect for next week. Sometimes we have an ‘appreciation or compliment’ circle where everyone has to give their appreciation to someone or compliment the person on their left. At the final closing circle, after 8-10 weeks of program, the participants are asked about their favourite part of Bike Club. This one is always a bitter sweet circle.

Graduation

After 8-10 weeks of Bike Club, our participants graduate and receive their bike, lock and helmet. More than 200 youth graduate this program every year. This is an important celebration to recognize the achievements of our Bike Clubbers and we try to make it extra special. I won’t go into it too much here as we have our first round of Bike Club Graduations coming up so watch for a blog about that!

Any questions about our Bike Club programs and how you can support our work? Email me at laura.istead(a)twowheelview.org.

~Laura

 

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In the past 7 days…

In the past 7 days I’ve…

Celebrated the success of this year’s Shaw Charity Classic.

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In a challenging economy the Shaw Charity Classic raised over $5.2 million for youth charities in Alberta. This was Two Wheel View’s first year as a part of this fundraising event and we look forward to making an even bigger splash in 2017. Interested in helping us out? Contact me at laura.istead(a)twowheelview.org.

 

Witnessed incredible speakers at Rotary’s Make Dreams Real event.

This event shares the stories of the different programs and organizations that the Rotary Clubs of District 5360 puts their time, talent and funding towards. Two of our trip participants in 2016 were supported by the Rotary Club of Calgary- Heritage Park.

 

Connected with fellow non-profit organizations at The Calgary Foundation’s Vital City.

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A highlight of our calendar every year, The Calgary Foundation brings together so many organizations, leaders and community builders to celebrate the impact we are all having on the city of Calgary and beyond. We are grateful to them not only for financially supporting some of our programs including our Full Cycle – First Nations Bike programs but believing in our way of making a difference in the community.

 

Danced my butt off at WE Day Alberta… for the fifth time!

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WE Day is a movement. It brings to together youth from all over Alberta to celebrate the contributions they’ve made to making our province and world a better place to live. Each year they have incredible speakers (Chris Hadfield and Rick Hansen this year to name a few!), talented musicians and local changemakers to inspire and empower youth to make a difference. It’s hard not to leave this event feeling hopeful for the future!

Hosted TWV Team Night at the office.

Once a month we host a TWV Team Night at our office. This is a chance for staff and others in our office building to catch up, connect and build community. Last night we enjoyed soup from a small local company Lovin’ Ladles. We LOVE to support local business as much as we can!

Spent an evening with Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor and watched inspiring youth earn their Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Technically this one is still to come (tomorrow!) but it is definitely going to be a career highlight. At least one of our past participants will receive his Silver Award tomorrow night. It’s pretty awesome to be a small part of that achievement. This might be my first Silver ceremony but I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last!

My heart is full.

~Laura

 

 

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3 things we are looking forward to this fall

I always feel that after a busy summer of organizing and doing bike trips, the fall should be be quieter. You’d think after working at TWV almost 6 years, I’d know by now that’s NEVER been the case. Here are a few things we are looking forward to this fall!

“The Adventurers” Speaker Seriesthe-adventurers-insta

This is the newest event of the TWV calendar and I couldn’t be more excited! One of the common threads of our organization is adventure. As a TWV staff, we make time for adventure regularly, whether its on or off the bike, in Canada or abroad. It seems that the people and organizations that find themselves connecting with Two Wheel View have often had amazing adventures of their own and understand the importance that adventure can play in the lives of young people. “The Adventurers” will explore this topic and bring together like-minded people who want to talk about how we can get more youth out adventuring. Our keynote speaker Ryan Correy, an adventure cyclist whose passion for adventure began after a series of cross-country bike trips with his dad at age 13, will talk about how that experience led him on a path beyond his wildest dreams. Don’t miss Ryan as he talks about taking on some of the world’s toughest cycling challenges, including an epic 25,000km tour from Alaska to Argentina.

Hosted in partnership with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, this evening will also feature presentations from past TWV trip participants, live music and snacks.

November 18th, 2016 7pm at the Sunalta Community Hall. Tickets are now on sale for $10. Click here to purchase.

 

Bike Club Graduation

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One of the biggest perks of my job is getting to attend our Bike Club Graduations. Seeing those hard working young people ride away on their new-to-them bicycles completely fills my heart. For many of these students, this is the first bike they’ve ever owned. Most of us can probably remember our first bike (Mine was blue with a red basket that I carried my Fisher-Price tape recorder so I could sing while I biked) and the freedom and opportunities it gave us. We know from parents and teachers that our students are using these bikes to get to school more regularly, to part-time jobs or other after school programs. They are able to keep up with their friends and explore their community, which to many of our new immigrants, is an integral part of feeling welcome in their new home. This fall we’ll have five Bike Club graduations (the first of 17 we’ll have this year) with approximately 50 youth receiving bicycles. Thank you to the schools, community centres and libraries that host us and help to open a whole new world to these kids.

Volunteer Mechanics Nights

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Our Volunteer Mechanics Nights have geared back up this fall!  Part education session, part chance to give back, our Volunteer Mechanics Nights go a long way to helping us fixed up donated bikes for youth in our Bike Clubs. VMN is currently held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 6-9pm at Good Life Community Bike Shop (2100 4th Street SW). Each session is accompanied by a mechanics lesson from one of our experienced mechanics so you aren’t just giving back, you are improving your skills too. New volunteers are always welcome to take part. Contact our Program Director Madeleine for more information and to sign up for our volunteer newsletter. You can email her at m.hardy(a)twowheelview.org. See you there!

~Laura

Categories: Bike Club, Events, Volunteering | Leave a comment

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