Since 2008, nonprofit Humble Sons Bike Company has provided thousands of bikes and helmets to local kids.
In 2014, Humble Sons Executive director Jason Whorton co-founded Bike Club, an after school program at Tulsa Public Schools that extended the work of Humble Sons. The program runs September to May and students who complete it receive a new bike and helmet.
Due to COVID-19, Whorton was forced to slam the brakes on Bike Club's weekly meetings, but they are still giving bikes to this year's participants.
"We are happy to announce that our Bike Club students will still receive a new bicycle and helmet this month," says Whorton. "We are thankful that our vendors came through to make this a happen, and Two Men and a Truck have offered to deliver them to 22 schools."
With Bike Club meetings paused, Whorton and Rob Kaiser, an assistant principal with Tulsa Public Schools, wanted to continue providing students an opportunity to stay active while sheltering in place at home.
The result is Stay Active OK!, which offers resources organized by topics that include art, cooking, exercise, biking, reading and dealing with emotions. Within each category there are Youtube videos demonstrating an activity and offering ideas how to implement them at home. To date there are more than 100 videos with more added each week.
We checked in with Whorton to learn more about the new resource website.
What was it that made you have a light bulb moment to launch a website that goes beyond bicycling and provides a lot of useful resources beyond athletic activities?
When schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were separated from the more than 600 TPS students we serve annually. Like many organizations, we didn’t want this to stop us in our tracks – so we had to get creative. During the first week of sheltering at home, I noticed that a friend of mine Rob Kaiser, who is also a TPS Assistant Principal and Bike Club faculty sponsor, began publishing at-home activity videos on social media under the title Recess with Rob.
I thought, what if we created similar videos using content from our Bike Club lessons – and then the light bulb went off… beside being fortunate to have amazing volunteers, Humble Sons has developed relationships with a wide range of community partners. Could we call on these partners to collaborate on a larger effort? A few phone calls later, the answer was yes!
The Opportunity Project agreed to provide content on dealing with emotions during this challenging time, Coach Mike (Carter) had more exercise content, another friend offered to do art lessons – book readings, cooking and other activity ideas began to flood in. We knew we had something right way.
There’s a lot of content from a wide range of partners. How fast did you turn it around and get it up and running?
Within a week we had roughly 15-20 videos. My background is in web design and development – so I put those skills to use creating a website and social media accounts to support our efforts. Another friend, Russell Wadlin, agreed to create a logo to help us tie this all together… but what should we call it… it’s really games and activities to stay active while at home, hmmm – STAY ACTIVE OK [lahoma]! By the end of the first week, we had content, a brand, website and social media presence… we were off to the races.
How has the response been?
It has been amazing – more than I even thought we could pull off with a few short weeks. We now have 100 videos and are adding more each week. Between all of our social media platforms, our videos have been viewed over 85,000 times! This just shows how dedicated this group of partners is to serving Tulsa area students and families. Humble Sons is proud to be associated with them.
The website focuses on a wide range of topics, including “dealing with emotions.” Some might not expect to see mental health components on a website called “Stay Active,” but kids (or adults) can enjoy a video about a calming jar or practicing mindfulness. What made you decide to go the extra step with the mental health aspect?
Mental health is just as important as physical health – especially in challenging times when anxiety among children and adult can rise. Bike Club is an after-school youth cycling program that teaches students how to safely operate a bike – but we’re really much more than that, we pair adults with students for weekly mentoring and are focused on improving the ABC’s (attendance, behavior and Coursework) for the students involved.
Good mental health is important inside and outside of our clubs and schools. When Bike Club is active, we work with The Opportunity Projects on an initiative called Volunteer University – through this program, we teach our volunteers about SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) among other topics.
Another component to the site is cooking videos with partner It’s All About Kids. The peanut butter balls look amazing. Have you found yourself trying out these recipes?
We want to offer something for everyone – and a lot of families come together in the kitchen. The cooking videos from It’s All About Kids are elementary age appropriate and use common ingredients found in most households. They are simple, yet delicious – and Yes, the peanut butter balls are a must! On a side note, IAK brings their bicycle-powered blender to our Bike Club schools and conducts interactive lessons where students use their own body energy to blend a smoothie or make salsa.
Has this project become something bigger than you anticipated and could it be something you continue on past the next month or two?
We plan on keeping the website and associated social media accounts active long after the Safer at Home orders have been lifted. It is a great repository of activities – I’ve already heard our Bike Club volunteers comment that some of these resources would be great alternatives for clubs to utilize on rainy or cold weather days when we’re forced inside. We now have a go-to list of ideas our volunteers can use when it’s not possible to ride.