Renewable energy: Little Bellas who become junior mentors
Dressed in blue and magenta mountain bike jerseys, hair pulled back into a ponytail or braids, and coated with a layer of colorful dust, these young women are almost quite literally setting the pace for their generation. To us they are leaders because they embrace the opportunity to learn new skills, and then share them with each other because they understand that there's power in collective knowledge. Every success is a cause to celebrate one another, and it’s this kind of mutual support that’s an infinite power source getting renewed again and again through Little Bellas who later become junior mentors.
“I chose to mentor with Little Bellas because I have a very strong passion for mountain biking that I would love to share with other young female riders!” said Sophia Wojcikowski, 14, who’s a junior mentor for Little Bellas in Park City, Utah. “I would love to get more girls on bikes!”
Mountain biking is a social activity that’s a bit more open to interpretation than other sports. For instance, there’s more than one way to conquer a rock or a root and, if you don’t make it on the first try, take another pass — that’s OK, we’ll wait because your success is our success. This strength in numbers helps empower Little Bellas to reach their fullest potential and, the secret to channeling all that positive energy is mentors.
Mentors are everything to Little Bellas. They selflessly give their time to help the girls feel comfortable on their mountain bikes and to safely challenge themselves, all while radiating fun. Junior mentors are girls ages 14-17 who are usually former Little Bellas, which gives them the unique ability to relate to what the kids are experiencing in the program. Junior mentors are a bridge between the kids and the adult mentors. What junior mentors bring to the program is peer empathy and understanding because they are closer in age to the Little Bellas.
“I wanted to become a mentor because I love working with kids that share the same interests as me,” explained Aisley Gentry, 14, junior mentor for the Little Bellas of Cody, Wyoming. “I enjoy watching kids grow and have fun while riding a bike.”
Little Bellas rarely takes a victory lap for its numerous successes, which include more than 8500 girls served nationwide so far, strategic partnerships to enable girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate, and a 100 percent renewal rate for each program chapter since day one. One more thing to be proud of is Little Bellas’s junior mentors, many of whom have been part of Little Bellas since they were seven years old. Now they’ve chosen to pay it back (or is it forward?) by enabling their younger peers to access their own untapped potential.