2022 Grants Challenge

From Play Equity to Olympic Gold

Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics. The children of today will be Team USA's athletes of tomorrow. Unfortunately there are sections of Los Angeles with huge disparities in the ability for children to safely play. We aim to address that inequity by providing a means (free refurbished bicycles, helmets and bike locks) and a bicycle safety skills class lead by Olympic Athletes, igniting a passion for sport, play, and physical activity in children regardless of their race, gender, zip code, or socioeconomic status.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

East Side Riders Bahati Foundation Velo Sports Center

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

Other:: South LA County Communities

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Play Equity is a critical component to be addressed if our underserved youth are to gain access to Olympic-level sports, especially with the LA 2028 Olympics only 6 years away. Additionally, for children who live in areas where poverty is rampant and resources lacking, play inequity contributes to child obesity. "If you look at Malibu or Beverly Hills, the prevalence of childhood obesity is 5% or under, but if you look at East L.A. or South L.A., it can be 30% or 35%.” -- CHLA's Dr. Gorn Long term childhood obesity can result in a host of physical diseases including fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, skin conditions, and orthopedic problems. It can also precipitate a deterioration in mental health. (J of Family Med and Primary Care Apr-June 2015) We focus on igniting a passion for sport, play, and physical activity in children regardless of their race, gender, zip code, or socioeconomic status through this program.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Called "Lets Ride Bicycle Camp", 50-75 children and parents from underserved communities arrive to the VELO Sports Center, an Olympic Training facility and site of the 2028 Olympic Cycling events. Buses are provided as needed. The day starts with a tour inside and watching athletes train. Olympic athletes talk about and answer questions about what it was like to be in the Olympics. Everyone then goes outside to get fitted for one of the many refurbished bicycles provided, given a new bicycle helmet and divided up into groups based on skill. Professional athletes including members of the US Olympic cycling team and volunteers teach the kids basic cycling and safety skills like how to turn, stop, ride in a straight line and signal. By coupling this education with the opportunity to learn from professional athletes the kids are more engaged and thus more likely to retain the lessons. Lunch is provided before everyone does a 1 mile group ride on closed roads concluding with the kids crossing an official Finish Line where they all get their own finishing medal and other free swag. As a special surprise, those children who doesn't have their own bicycles are allowed to keep the ones they rode on. They're also offered a free bicycle lock. Prior to the day, East Side Riders refurbishes used bicycles as part of a program to educate youth (ages 12+) in bicycle maintenance and repair, helping them gain employable skills that they can use to benefit themselves and others.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Play Equity is a vital issue to address now for the future of Los Angeles County tomorrow. The disparities in youth activity in underserved communities compared to other communities continues to get worse as the percentage of active kids from low-income families drop. By providing free bicycle skills education, free bicycles, free helmets and locks to hundreds of kids in underserved communities we are cutting the Gordian Knot that precipitates early onset of numerous physical and emotional health conditions. By inspiring youth with real-life heroes, Olympic athletes, some of who grew up in their same neighborhoods, we help them to see a way out of what can be a vicious cycle of poverty and suppression. By continuing to support these same youth through ongoing East Side Riders and Bahati Foundation programs we are ensuring their future wellbeing. The future of any community is in it's youth. Invest in them and everyone will have a better tomorrow.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The aim of this program is to increase Play Equity with additional goals of inspiring youth from underserved communities to become our future Olympic athletes as well as helping to reduce childhood obesity and providing skills training. In past Lets Ride Bicycle Camps 10-15% of the kids present learned to ride a bicycle for the very first time and 80-90% of the kids didn't have a bicycle or helmet and received their first ones. "A majority of professional athletes with USA Cycling started because they were inspired by Olympic Athletes." -- Mari Holden, USA Cycling and Olympic Silver Medalist While this program has not been in existence long enough to be able to measure how many kids have gone on to become professional athletes, the program feeds into existing programs with East Side Riders and Bahati Foundation to reduce obesity and support future athletes. In 2020 these organizations served over 2000 youth as part of their childhood obesity programs.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 5,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

Streets Are For Everyone will be responsible for overall program magement, supplies, event coordition and production as well as volunteer coordition. East Side Riders has strong roots in the Watts Community and a pre-existing program to educate older kids on how to fix used bicycles. They're responsible for procuring used bicycles, refurbishing them as well as outreach to invite underserved youth to participate. Bahati Foundation has strong roots in Compton, it's own professiol racing team and works with underserved youth to inspire them to become athletes. They're responsible for inviting underserved youth to participate. USA Cycling and Velo Sports Center provide the location and Olympic athletes to work with and inspire these kids to get active and reach for the stars.