El Grupo Youth Cycling is getting bigger by getting smaller.
The organization is piloting a new program aimed younger children called El Grupito. While the primary organization, El Grupo, works with kids between 12 and 18 years old, El Grupito provides children aged eight to 12 an opportunity to ride their bikes with other kids.
El Grupo founder and director Daniela Diamente said El Grupito stems from requests from bicycling families in the community.
“El Grupito is a response to years of requests from kids and parents to have something similar to El Grupo, but for younger children,” she said.
Diamente said they view El Grupito as an alternative to other after school activities like dance class and soccer. It is goal-oriented, but will not focus on competitions like El Grupo. Each session lasts about three months and meets twice a week for a skills day and a longer ride day.
“It’s an opportunity to experience riding bikes, but also gives kids the opportunity to experience other things as well,” Diamente said.
It’s an experience El Grupito riders Maddy Mogan, 8 and Camilla Benning, 9 are enjoying.
“It’s really fun,” Maddy said. “I would like to do it again.”
“We figure El Grupito is the next closest thing to fulfilling Maddy’s dream of being a professional downhill skier,” Maddy’s mom Megan Mogan said about the program and riding bikes.
Camilla enjoys the long rides.
“I really like the longer rides because I get to see a lot of stuff and I just like riding my bike,” Camilla said.
Diamente said the program, which started in September, was made possible by money provided by Angel Charity for Children and is El Grupo’s next big expansion. The pilot will will end in December, but a new session of El Grupito will start after the holidays.
She said they may end up with 15 kids riding on Monday and Wednesday and another 15 riding on Tuesday and Thursday. To participate, parents are asked to pay $50 per month, but Diamente said like anything they do, they find ways to make it affordable for everyone including scholarships.
Participating in one of El Grupo’s bike camps will likely be a prerequisite and something Camilla notices makes a difference.
“Everyone kind of knows that they are doing because everyone has some level of experience,” Camilla said of her fellow El Grupito riders.
Parents who are interested should email Diamente and signup for the waiting list and newsletter to receive more information about the program.