Kids Discover the Power of Pedaling
P.O. Box 612
Flint, Michigan 48501
After losing her car, Angela Stamps discovered a new way to see the world after being given a bike. She has since repaid the favor by showing kids the benefits of cycling in Flint.
A passionate advocate for bicycling, Flint resident Angela Stamps says a humbling life experience put her on the path to get around via pedal power.
“My passion for cycling is kinda happenstance,” she says. “After being out there riding, I began to see life from a different vantage point. I actually started thinking in real time and realized there are so many things I can accomplish by just using my mind.”
Now, Stamps shares that insight with others. Bicycling is an everyday part of life, something she has even incorporated into a career.
As the founder of Kentakee Athletic & Social Clubs, she brings her enthusiasm for cycling to Flint youth through the Berston Bicycle Club Project and gives free bikes to participants who complete the nine-week safety and education program.
Stamps grew up in Flint but lived in Los Angeles from 1993 to 2010. In 2006, while working as a hairdresser, her car was repossessed. She walked or rode the bus until someone gave her a bike.
She started doing everything on a bike and soon realized she could cover a lot more ground. She regained a sense of freedom by not having to wait on mass transit or adhere to its routes, and she saved money. She also lost weight and became stronger and fitter.
“Before I realized it, I was addicted to seeing the world from a bike,” she says. “Also, this is the first time in my life I have
"I want the children to know that bicycling is a fun way to get around a small town and that there are major health benefits in terms of weight control," Stamps says.
consistently exercised and enjoyed the process.”
Back in her hometown, she launched the bicycle club in 2012 as a free outreach to youth ages 10-18. She offers two, nine-week sessions, one starting in May and the other in mid-July. The club meets 4-7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and members must ride at least two times per week.
Those who stay the course – riding an average 250 miles over the nine weeks – receive a new a bike, helmet, bike bag, reflective vest, and other accessories. They also gain a sense of accomplishment. “They learn that they have stamina, tenacity and wherewithal that they were not aware of.”
The program teaches the fundamentals of bicycle safety, proper riding techniques, and the benefits of healthy eating and being active. Stamps also talks about hydration, calories and body mass index, and eating for energy as it relates to biking.
“They are informed that it is in their best interest to eat healthy food items and drink more water to complete these sessions,” she says. “Teenagers play a major role in what items are brought into the home. If we can convince them to make better choices it permeates the entire family.”
She enjoys exposing the youth to affordable transportation that is good for the environment, has health benefits and allows them to see things in real time. Cars require gas, insurance and maintenance.
“I want the children to know that bicycling is a fun way to get around a small town and that there are major health benefits in terms of weight control,” Stamps says. “There are several places to see that cannot be accessed by a car. You save a lot of money, and cycling is a form of transportation you can take anywhere around the globe.”
Each session starts and ends at the Berston Field House, 3300 N. Saginaw St., where the youth are given a short lesson and
"Living in an automotive city, a lot of people view riding a bike as being down on your luck or down trodden," she says. "The kids are having a blast; people are always honking and waving. We’re also teaching people to share the road."
adjust their bikes and warm up. Stamps teaches them directions and rules of the road while riding, extending the route a little each time.
As the program progresses, participants also see different parts of the city and learn various routes to get around the Flint area, riding to Blue Bell Beach, For-mar Arboretum, Kettering University, and other points of interest along the Flint River Trail.
Stamps has a fleet of about 40 used bikes for participants to use if they don’t have their own. She also uses them for bicycle clinics in the community and leads a weekly family ride on Saturdays from May to September.
Besides getting more people on bikes, she hopes to change people’s perception of bicycling and help create a share the road culture.
“Living in an automotive city, a lot of people view riding a bike as being down on your luck or down trodden,” she says. “The kids are having a blast; people are always honking and waving. We’re also teaching people to share the road.”
Stamps says riding her bike gives her time to reflect and take in nature, and she enjoys sharing that with the youth in her club.
“I always took the same routes in a car,” she says. “I never explored like I do now. I really prefer my bike because I have time to think, to look at the clouds, to see rabbits and frogs. I wouldn’t see that in a car.”
It was on bike rides while still living in Los Angeles that she thought about starting a nonprofit and began the process of incorporation. Stamps realized she could make more of an impact in a place like Flint, where she still had family ties. She started Kentakee Athletic & Social Clubs in 2008 and decided to move back to Flint in 2010.
“Riding has opened so many doors,” she says. “I have met thousands of people, literally, and I cannot wait to get up and ride my bike daily. It is the reason I have programming for teenagers. It has just been one the best things I could have incorporated into my daily routine.”
Another goal of the club is to help combat the growing problem of childhood obesity in her city. She tries to instill healthy habits in youth that they can share with their parents and siblings and continue into adulthood.
And it seems to be working. One participant in last year’s club lost 30 pounds and returned to help her this year. Stamps says the children are talking to their parents about buying water instead of juices and sugary soda.
She hopes to have 40 children complete the program this summer, leaving with an activity they can do for a lifetime and a sense of self-confidence and independence.
“With most organized sports, you need some level of coordination,” she says. “With my program, you don’t need all that stuff. You just need to be willing to try hard. You can be part of a fun activity. You learn a great deal about yourself and what you’re made of and the town you live in. A lot of these kids haven’t been out of their neighborhood.”