|Marilyn Price , Trips for Kids|
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Trips for Kids
Marilyn Price came up with the idea for Trips for Kids while biking up Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, Calif. “Wouldn’t it be great,” she thought, “to bring kids up to this spectacular place?” But her next thought was, “I can’t. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
Aside from working briefly as the assistant in a small nonprofit start-up, her experience was limited to short part-time jobs, including one at a bike shop. But she overcame her fears and in 1986 founded Trips for Kids, which takes disadvantaged kids on scenic, daylong bike rides. Today her nonprofit organization, which is based in Mill Valley, Calif., has 64 chapters throughout the United States.
Marilyn was inspired by a psychologist in Southern California who was doing something similar to what she envisioned. She wrote to him, and he encouraged her to follow her dream and start small.
Someone suggested that she send out a needs survey so she could raise money, and that’s what she did. About 20 agencies said they would love to send at-risk kids on bike trips. Then a friend told her about an annual trade bike show in Reno, where she asked companies to donate bikes. Schwinn came through.
“Once we got the bikes, there was no turning back. I had to keep going. And after that, it was pretty easy,” she says. “Bicycling is so popular here in Northern California and working with kids is so appealing. It was just a notion that clicked.”
Children in the program gain confidence, learn to appreciate the great outdoors and get a healthy dose of exercise. They tell her, “I learned I am stronger than I thought” and “I learned if you keep trying you can get to the top.”
In an after-school program, they earn points toward bikes and helmets by learning how to build and repair bikes. Marilyn says, “If you give a child a bike, one day it will get a flat. If you teach a child how to fix a flat, they can ride farther. But one day the brakes will wear out or the chain may break. If you teach a child how to build a bike, they will ride forever.”
Marilyn started Trips for Kids with no money and didn’t take a salary for 10 years. In 1999 at age 59 she expanded the program across the U.S. There are now 64 financially independent chapters serving more than 8,000 disadvantaged kids who ordinarily spend an inordinate amount of time indoors. That’s why she calls her program “Leave No Child Inside.”
Marilyn doesn’t do business plans and doesn’t have a clue where the organization will be 10 years from now. The secret of her success, she believes, is “sticking with something, believing in something, enjoying something – and working really hard.”
“I never had a lot of confidence in myself,” Marilyn says. “I always thought of myself as being someone very good at following someone else, letting them set the pace. But gradually I got more comfortable with being in front and with creating action plans. It was one step at a time, moving gradually, slowly. That’s why I think anyone can do this.”
Visit the Trips for Kids website
Read Marilyn Price’s profile