Spring Urban Explorers has come and gone quick as Fort Taber winds... we wish the rain had come and gone a lot quicker! Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of exploring the beautiful verdant peninsula of New Bedford’s South End with elementary school students from Gomes, Hathaway, and Our Sister’s School. Biking is a hallmark program of Youth Opportunity Unlimited, harking back to our “Trips for Kids” days. Since day one we have used bikes as a tool for youth engagement and exploration, a way to open up the world and led children’s natural curiosity be our guide.
Our spring days have been a patchwork of experiences, one of the highlights being that we had the privilege of teaching several children how to ride a bicycle! That’s that many more New Bedford youth who now have the ability to explore their city, maybe provide their own ride to school, and one day even get to and from work. That is true freedom!
Some of our favorite stops during Spring Urban Explorers are along the coast. Our instructors relish at the opportunity to follow a child’s gaze or question and create an opportunity for fun and learning. An average afternoon ride might begin with a quick stop at the bike path entrance, where a small speck of beach is home to bright beach blossoms, tiny scurrying rock crabs, colorful sea glass and polished pebbles. Here the kids have learned about marine biology, public infrastructure, ecology, and more. From there, with instructors sprinkled in between, the line of kids snakes it’s way onto the bike path, looping up and around Fort Taber. A stop at the playground is a must, where the kids love to play “Ninja Warrior Challenge”. After cruising down a few hills we might make a stop at East Beach, if time allows, for a quick game of “nukum” or a toe-dip in the icy water. But truly, it’s difficult to define “typical” at Y.O.U.--our youth direct our adventures, and each day is a surprise!
We all know how rainy this spring was, so that left us with more rainy days than our eager, bike-loving instructors would have liked. Fortunately, biking isn’t all our staff has up their sleeves! From transplanting seedlings and painting stones, to playing knockout and four square, the Warming House is well-equipped for indoor fun. We may have also snuck out on a drizzly day or two to get our hands dirty in the garden..!
Rain or shine, springtime at Y.O.U. is guaranteed to be memorable. Though we already dearly miss our Spring Urban Explorers, now that we’ve got our spring biking program successfully wrapped up we eagerly looked forward to a Summer of YOUth “Exploring Your Environment”! Starting the first week of July keep your eyes out for us as we cruise around the South End. See you at Fort Taber :)