Cycling Inspiration: El Grupo

February 14, 2014

At Light & Motion we’re big believers in getting people of all ages on bikes which is why we love the work that El Grupo is doing.

El Grupo is a non-profit youth cycling team in Tucson, Arizona that affords the opportunities of cycling to local teens who otherwise would not get the chance. Their mission “to empower youth through bicycles. We aim to instill traits such as courage, integrity, life-long healthy habits and good sportsmanship through bicycle advocacy, and riding and racing bicycles.”

In fact, the work that El Grupo does is based on the following goals:
– To enable youth to become life-long bike lovers and good healthy citizens
– To educate and inspire youth to overcome obstacles, both personal and societal (i.e. choosing the bicycle as a primary means of transportation)
– To empower youth to set and achieve personal and team goals
– To make riding bikes safer, cooler, and more accessible for those under 18 years of age

From El Grupo:
We are getting youth on bikes, and they in turn are teaching and inspiring other youth (and adults) to ride, enjoy and love bikes, too. We are developing the next generation of cycling enthusiasts in Tucson.
El Grupo began as a “fitness elective” at City High School in conjunction with BICAS, and per the youth riders’ demands grew from there. El Grupo over the years has relied entirely on the good will of the community through donations of bicycles, parts and equipment.

We provide and wear hand-me-down shorts, shoes and practice jerseys; ride recycled bikes that we refurbish; and we make the best use of the donations that come our way. Many of El Grupo youth come from low-income, single-parent households that simply do not have the means to purchase modern cycling equipment, even at a reduced cost. El Grupo youth come from every walk of life from all over Tucson. The kids are not jocks or athletes, necessarily.

Most of them do not come from cycling families. They are middle and high school youth who just need something positive to get excited about. El Grupo provides that and more.

In just around five years, El Grupo has gone from a rag-tag group of kids riding old steel-framed bikes to a respectable team as the best junior team in Arizona in 2010 and a central player in local and regional bicycle advocacy.

As our friend and cyclist/writer extraordinaire Heidi Swift put it:
“El Grupo is about more than winning. It’s about camaraderie, life skills, commitment, motivation, belonging and giving back. Members are expected to contribute at least four hours a month to community outreach, including mentoring and educating younger kids about bicycle safety.”

You certainly can’t argue with that!

Learn more about El Grupo and what they’re up to on the group’s website.