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“You belong” — Youth United in Park City Gives Girls Access to Mt Biking

Youth United helps more girls access mountain biking.

It used to be that many kids in Park City, Utah couldn’t participate in Park City’s abundant opportunities for sports and recreation due to financial and other barriers. Mountain biking could have been one of these “access denied” opportunities if it wasn’t for Youth United (formerly the Solomon Fund and Rise), which empowers Latino children to take advantage of these opportunities. Since there are more perspectives on life and mountain biking than just one, Little Bellas in particular has been enriched with participants from Youth United, who’ve strengthened the program through their presence.

Mountain biking in Park City, Utah

Park City is in a mountain biking league all its own due to its vast, varied, and publicly available trail network that laces the area. Perceived barriers to mountain biking include the cost of equipment, engaging with historically marginalized groups, and communication with parents and guardians. What Youth United has done in partnership with Little Bellas is expand participation to include girls who might not otherwise know about the program. The Park City Little Bellas program is stronger, richer, and more diverse as a result.

It's more fun with friends

Mountain biking in Park City, Utah is more fun with friends.

The connection among all who show up to a Little Bellas program has an impact too. The opportunity to ride together pays dividends in relieving stress, improving mental and physical health, and building confidence about what can be accomplished when you have support. And that’s just talking about the mentors who selflessly give their time to help the girls reach their best potential. 

“I really enjoy the mentorship access,” said Megan Waters, regional specialist for the Park City Little Bellas. “It’s really about being able to get on the bike, connect with each other, and hold, each other accountable. I think it’s rewarding because we want to be together — to spend time together.”

The girls benefit from this camaraderie as well since the mentors set an example by their actions. Mentors and junior mentors nationwide all have one thing in common: an intention to get more girls on bikes. Mountain biking has so much to offer that Megan has embraced it as an approach to dealing with the challenges the girls may face in their day-to-day lives.

An alternative to team sports

“I think elementary school should be fun,” she said. “We try to show the girls that mountain biking can supplement traditional sports and that it doesn’t have to be competitive.”

Megan also commented that the girls had different interests depending upon their age. For instance, the younger girls thrive on games while the older girls enjoy taking on challenges and new choices, like route finding and ride leadership.

It’s no secret that diversity improves outcomes, like offering new solutions to common challenges, or imagining fresh ways to have fun on mountain bikes. Youth United is determined to create an inclusive and equitable community where kids can be kids. Little Bellas is thrilled to join the ride.

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