SAN RAFAEL, CA (BRAIN) — Trips for Kids International (TFK) has opened its door to the African continent with the formation of a chapter in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Located on the coast of West Africa, TFK Freetown is the first of what the organization hopes will be many chapters on the African continent.
In collaboration with Village Bicycle Project operating out of Sierra Leone, TFK International is providing the framework, equipment, training and other services to help their new Freetown chapter grow and flourish.
Trips for Kids is a nonprofit based in San Rafael, California, that gives underserved youth a chance to experience mountain biking. It operates more than 80 chapters across North America, Israel and Africa.
Village Bicycle Project, another U.S.-based nonprofit, has been working since 1999 to increase bicycle use in Africa: sending donated bikes to Africa, teaching bike maintenance, providing subsidized bicycles, supporting mechanics with tools and spare parts and addressing the special needs of African women and girls. To date they have sent over 65,000 bikes to Africa to support their programs.
“Unlike in the U.S., there are very few resources available in Africa to help organize and fund a program like Trips for Kids," said Marilyn Price, TFK founder and executive director. “In partnership with Village Bicycle Project, we are able to extend the Trips for Kids model to our new Freetown chapter and expect it to be the first of many more chapters to come in Africa.”
Founded by Louis Bayo, a Freetown police officer who grew up in the same neighborhood as the children his program now serves, TFK Freetown, Sierra Leone is located in an impoverished, high-crime community with few schools and little opportunity for the thousands of children who live there. The program has already attracted more than 25 volunteers—most of them unemployed, under schooled teens.
The first training session was conducted by Village Bicycle Project staff in August.
“We had the first Learn to Ride session today, and it was fantastic," said Chris Harbert-Erceg, SL Programs Coordinator of Village Bicycle Project. “All of the volunteers were eager to help and excited to learn about cycling. We look forward to partnering with Trips for Kids as they expand to other areas of Africa.”