Ask Stephen Janes what his favorite part about working with kids is and he will tell you the story of a kid who rode a bike in the woods for the first time.“It was on a greenway about a mile from his house that he had never been on,” Janes said. “He’s riding into the woods for the first time and yelling, ‘It smells like trees!’ That sticks with me. My family and I joke about that all the time. Every time we go out in the woods, we’re like, “Aaahhh, it smells like trees!’ We have so much access that we tend to take for granted and it reminds me not to take that for granted. Even if I’m having the worst ride of my life, it’s more rides than some kids will ever have.”Janes runs The Bicycle Thrift Shop located along the Swannanoa River in Asheville, N.C. At the shop, he takes in gently used bikes and refurbishes them to sell back to the community. The store funds the ride program Janes started in 2010, Adventure Kids WNC.“There are a lot of kids who are not able to get on bikes or get to a good place to ride,” he said. “Let’s get them outside of their walls that they are currently in and show them another piece of the world that they wouldn’t otherwise see.”Adventure Kids is a free after-school program that runs at an elementary school, a high school, and three middle schools in Western North Carolina. The kids learn about bike safety and road etiquette around the school campuses, using bikes and helmets provided by donations and profits from the thrift shop. During the summer, Janes takes the kids out into Pisgah National Forest to experience the trails.“We’ve been able to teach 18 kids how to ride a bike. The smile on their face, the joy you can see in them when they are finally able to pedal around and not fall over, to finally get that moment sticks with me forever and encourages me to keep going,” Janes said.More than 3,200 kids have benefited from this program in the eight years it has been running. Alison Rhodes is a counselor at A.C. Reynolds Middle School where Janes has been running the program for four years.“Many of our students don’t live in neighborhoods or places where it’d be safe to ride a bike,” she said. “It’s something they can enjoy at school but also something they can take out when they’re at a point in their lives where they can do things more independently.”Before starting Adventure Kids, Janes worked as a camp counselor and a mental health professional. He focused on helping kids modify their behavior and develop coping skills.“Knowing the issues that exist amongst our community youth and understanding that bicycles are not just a tool for recreation, but can build self-confidence, can help these kids have goals, can give them a broader worldview, I knew that the two go hand in hand and complement each other,” he said.Janes started off selling used bikes people donated at festivals before realizing he could sustain a business selling refurbished bikes to fund the program.“I knew it would be one of those things where you don’t always see immediate results,” he said. “It’s one of those things where ten years down the road, a kid will be in a tough situation and look back and remember the bike trip that he or she was on, struggling to get up the hill and kept at it and made it to the top. They’ll look back and it will add confidence to their daily lives.”A number of other programs are using bikes to increase confidence among youth participants. Sarmuna Wei, 17, said she has already benefitted from her experience with Spoke’n Revolutions, a cycling and history program based in Carrboro, N.C.During the summer of 2017, she was part of a group that biked a section of the Trail of Tears. They traveled across multiple states, learning about the forced removal of Native Americans from their land in the 1800s.“The first year had a really big impact on me,” Wei said. “I thought I knew myself well but after doing this tour, I learned that I am a much stronger person.”Wei returned the following year for the Bikes, Water & Soul tour, a blend of environmental justice and local history. Staying in North Carolina, the group biked along the Neuse River to the Outer Banks and back to Carrboro.“There were times when we had to make sacrifices and just bike on the highway,” Wei said. “And that really scared me because I have a big fear of trucks, like an 18-wheeler. It’s a big fear of mine and I had to bike next to them. So I was shook and scared… I have faced so many fears. This tour has helped me face most of them. I am a much more confident person now.”When Kevin Hicks started Spoke’n Revolutions, he wasn’t sure if teenagers would be willing to bike long distances.“It started as an idea to give youth of color opportunities to experience travel and distance cycling,” he said. “It was not only the distance in the cycling, it was learning the history along the way.”For the first trip in 2011, Hicks led the group from Mobile, Ala. to Niagara Falls along the Underground Railroad. They rode between 45 to 70 miles a day, learning about the history of slavery along the way.Hicks has since traveled thousands of miles with teenagers on bikes. Each trip focuses on a different subject, including Blues & Jazz History, a trip from New Orleans, La. to St. Louis, Mo, and King 2 King, a ride focused on the history of the Civil Rights Movement from Atlanta, Ga. to Washington, D.C.In seven years, 60 kids have benefitted from this program, most returning for another ride as participants or group leaders once they have aged out.“The reason why I’m in this is to watch the kids grow and transform, helping make that light switch go off,” Hicks said.More Youth AdventuresLooking for a similar program near you? Check out these organizations around the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast that are providing access to the outdoors for kids. Oasis Bike WorkshopNashville, Tenn.At the free Oasis Bike Workshops, participants have the opportunity to build a bike from scratch and ride away with a bike, helmet, tools, and an alternative form of transportation.Pittsburgh Youth LeadershipPittsburgh, Penn.Since 2006, riders participating in Pittsburgh Youth Leadership have biked more than 290,000 miles across 49 states.Outdoor Education CenterHarper’s Ferry, W. Va.The Outdoor Education Center offers a variety of programming, from environmental education to multi-day backpacking trips, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.City Kids Wilderness ProjectWashington, D.C.City Kids provides year round support to students through middle and high school while encouraging learning through nontraditional methods including overnight trips during the school year and a summer camp in Jackson Hole, Wyo.Blue Sky FundRichmond, Va.The Blue Sky Fund, in conjunction with eight Richmond public schools, offers after school and summer programs, giving kids the chance to try rock climbing, orienteering, kayaking, and hands on science classes.
Brees was widely and harshly criticized by many NFL players, including some teammates, and by a number of media commentators. After apologizing, he then criticized President Donald Trump for construing the Kaepernick-style protests as being disrespectful to the military. Now, he has come out in favor of ending qualified immunity for police. His apologies have not been universally embraced by those his initial comments offended, but 49ers star defensive back Richard Sherman was one who did.”I appreciated him doing that,” Sherman told The San Francisco Chronicle. “People make mistakes in judgment all the time. None of us are perfect. I think it was just such a disappointment because the locker room and the culture is different than any other place. So you kind of get lulled into the belief that everyone has torn down those stereotypes and those walls. And everyone is treating each other equally.”I feel better about him actually taking the time to educate himself. He and his wife — they’re not bad people. But I think he didn’t fully understand the impact of those words. And I think he does fully understand it. So I do accept his apology.” Not every person who signed the petition organized by the Players Coalition to endorse the Ending Qualified Immunity Act is an NFL player, and not every NFL player’s name is on it. But there are a ton of them, more like many tons, and that weight is both literal and figurative.The more consequential figures from the league include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jarvis Landry and Calais Campbell. There are Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Aeneas Williams. There are NBA champion basketball coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich. There are NBA players and Major League Baseball players. All are in favor of a bill in the House of Representatives created by Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Justin Amash of Michigan that seeks to end the “qualified immunity” protection afforded to government officials “from being held personally liable for constitutional violations — like the right to be free from excessive police force — for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate clearly established law,” as the website Lawfare explained this week. The bill has 16 co-sponsors.MORE: How “Cops” made policing into a sport at the expense of black livesThe Players Coalition, launched by former NFL star Anquan Boldin and the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins in 2017, collected the endorsements of more than 1,100 athletes and coaches and more than 300 front-office personnel from professional teams in support of the bill.“We demand accountability for police brutality,” the group’s Twitter accounted stated. “It’s time for a change.”The qualified immunity concept became firmly established in 1967 following a Supreme Court case but increasingly was used in relation to police abuse cases within the past 15 years.A special report from Reuters declared that increased availability of body-camera video or cellphone videos has not been able to counteract the influence of the qualified immunity “under the careful stewardship of the Supreme Court” on legal action against police officers when citizens are killed or injured by their actions.“Qualified immunity protects police and other officials from consequences even for horrific rights abuses,” Amash said in a statement posted on his website. “It prevents accountability for the ‘bad apples’ and undermines the public’s faith in law enforcement. It’s at odds with the text of the law and the intent of Congress, and it ultimately leaves Americans’ rights without appropriate protection. Members of Congress have a duty to ensure government officials can be held accountable for violating Americans’ rights, and ending qualified immunity is a crucial part of that.”In addition to the legislative action, NPR reports, two Supreme Court justices — Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas — have called for a review of the qualified immunity doctrine. The high court has eight such cases pending and could decide to hear any or all of them and revisit qualified immunity, which Thomas has written was wholly invented by the courts without a basis in history.Brees’ appearance on the petition is especially notable, given that a week ago he was criticized for his stance on peaceful demonstrations that coincide with the playing of the national anthem, such as Colin Kaepernick genuflecting while a member of the San Francisco 49ers.MORE: CrossFit CEO resigns after George Floyd comments