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NYer of the Week: Katherine Long's Cycling Program Helps Children Explore New Paths

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With the installation of miles of bike lanes, the concrete jungle has become more 'biker friendly' in recent years, and thanks to the latest New Yorker of the Week, some children in the Lower East Side are getting the opportunity to learn how to ride while discovering new paths in life. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

After working late one night at a tech start-up, Katherine Long had an idea, a way to combine her two passions outside of work - cycling and mentoring.

"It struck me that there's a way to bring biking to kids to get them out, working out and also pair them up with a member of the community that could expose them to new ideas and new ways of thinking and broaden their horizons," she says.

"Exploring Paths" took off. It's an afternoon program at the Chinatown YMCA in Manhattan.
Kids aged 11 to 13 learn the rules of the road, how to safely ride a bike, and how to explore.

"We want the kids to be able to access what's available to them in their own neighborhood, and they are through this program," said Jeannette Corey, executive director of the Chinatown YMCA.

In a few short months, dozens of children have hopped on.

"I get to practice more. I get to learn new things like hand signals," said one student. "It's something I've never done before."

"She also taught us how to shift gears on a bike," said another.

Important lessons, but not the most valuable ones. Every child is paired with a mentor.

"Having someone who's done something in a field that maybe you like shows them there are things in life to achieve," Long says.

Marjorie Tapia's daughter is achieving beyond expectations.

"One of the things that she kept saying, 'Mom, what about if I can't do it? What if I can't do it?' and I'm like, 'You're going to learn how to do it. You’re going to learn,' and this gave her confidence that she knows that she can do it," Tapia says.

Katherine's encouragement has helped the kids balance on their own.

"When you see them in class, they're happy, they're more confident. They're just excited and having fun," she says. "The freedom of riding a bicycle, if you've ever ridden a bike, it's like you're in control of your own world and you're going somewhere, and these kids, you see that in their eyes."

So, for helping kids explore new paths, Katherine Long is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

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If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

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New Yorker of the Week
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New York, NY 10011

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