Walk Bike Youth Leaders
In the days leading up to the California Bicycle Summit in October 2017, something special happened: participants in CalBike’s first Walk & Bike Youth Leaders Program came together in Sacramento for a transformative few days of learning, networking, and sharing their own knowledge and stories.
The young people, many of whom were already involved in transportation advocacy in their communities, had met by video conference for a series of advocacy trainings, and worked on photography and video projects documenting transportation problems in their communities. Their experience in the state capital was a culmination of the program, and gave the young people the opportunity to present their documentary projects to the entire Summit.
Summit-goers were blown away by the presentations from the youth leaders. Dozens of attendees noted that the young people’s inspiring plenary, where they spoke and shared their documentary projects, was a highlight of the Summit.
“It further strengthened my desire to be involved in bike advocacy,” says one participant, Nancy Hernandez, 22, from Richmond. The program showed her “how much power we have, even as youth, to bring about change in our communities.”
And the youth impressed each other, too. Omar Vargas, 23, from Los Angeles said that Hernandez showed him a new way to demonstrate the impact of urban planning on people’s lives. “She really tied it back to her own experiences. How she interpreted it was very poetic,” he says. This showed him that “there’s more than one way to voice your concerns and opinions. It doesn’t always have to be technical and by the numbers.”
Empowering the youth to become bicycle advocates is vital to CalBike’s mission to bring better biking to all Californians. “Often, some of the most valuable voices in the room are young people who have a fresh perspective,” says CalBike’s Senior Policy Advocate Linda Khamoushian, who ran the program. The wWalk & Bike Youth Leaders Program provides training and mentorship to help more youth step into the movement for transportation justice and safer streets.