By Sarrah Peters
On Wednesday, June 5, a group of bikers stopped at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Gadsden and Etowah County.
University of Dayton Professor Peter Titlebaum, Dwight Matlock and Moshe Bargil embarked on a week-long biking trip the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 1 in Ride 4 Freedom Legacy Tour. The trip will end at the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery.
The group is riding along the Underground Railroad Trail, a route which slaves traveled to escape slavery. The ride is raising money for the museums and helping to create a scholarship at the University of Dayton’s Institute of Applied Creativity and Transformation. Along the way, the group made several stops to raise awareness about black history and the civil rights movement.
“One of the things I got a chance to do was meet one of the Freedom Riders,” said Titlebaum. “He was 19 and from Ohio. I asked him ‘What made you think at 19 to do this?’ And he said, ’Well we were going to change the world. At 19 you have the ability to think that you can do anything. When do we lose that?”
The group met with the children of the Boys and Girls Club and led them in an Institute for ACTactivity to consider their legacy: the mark that each one would leave on the world. Abby Almanrode, who accompanied the bikers, first asked the children what they wanted to be, and several volunteered career paths that they were interested in. Then, Almanrode asked who the students wanted to be, instead. Did they want to be happy, brave, kind or smart? Each child was directed to pick a word that described who they wanted to be and find a quote and picture that depicted that word. Then, the children were asked to think of ways that they could move towards becoming who they wanted to be.
The goal of the exercise was to get the children thinking more about the positive traits that they would like to have in the future and identify ways to move towards the goal of exemplifying those positive traits.
“I need people to strive for the positive things in life,” said Titlebaum.
Boys and Girls Club Director Sonquez Williams said that he felt the program was beneficial to the children.
“I thought it was great,” said Williams. “I’m really excited about it all and that Dr. Titlebaum and his team even considered us. It looks like our kids got a lot from it.”
Williams said that the lessons that the Ride 4 Freedom group imparted on the kids can be reinforced by the club throughout the summer.
“There’s a lot we can break apart into mini-lessons to plug into our programs and activities,” said Williams. “We are even hoping to visit the museum in Montgomery later this summer, so they can understand a little bit more about his trip. We’ve had some members track the distance between Cincinnatti and Gadsden and Gadsden and Montgomery. They were in awe of how long he came. It’s just amazing to have this here for our children.”