Cycling is more than just a pastime to David Taylor. For him, it is a chance to make a difference in the lives of underserved youth in the Upstate community.

Taylor serves as the director of Momentum Bike Clubs, a program facilitated by Clemson’s Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life. Through this program, 250 Upstate middle and high school students, many of whom live below the poverty line, are provided with an opportunity not only to get some exercise but also to “build lasting relationships that enable [them] to build resilience in pursuit of a meaningful life.”

Taylor has been involved since the beginning. The program was initially piloted in 2010 as part of a partnership between Furman University and Clemson, involving only one school and 10 students. Under Taylor’s leadership, it has expanded to include students from six middle schools and three community centers in Greenville.

Students begin the program in middle school. Once a week, the students mount bicycles that have been provided for them and cycle local trails. Upon completion of the middle school program, students are able to continue their cycling journeys through high school as part of the Challenge Team. Not only does this team go on more difficult rides (up to 50 miles), but they are given the chance to gain professional experience through summer internships.

This program is meaningful to Taylor because it allows him to have a direct impact on the students’ lives. He says that one of his defining moments as a member of the Clemson Family was giving a tour of the campus to a group of Momentum Bike Club participants and showing them the opportunities that can one day be theirs.

One student who has benefitted through such mentorship is Daniel Cubides, a Bogota, Columbia native who lives with relatives in Greenville. Through Momentum, Taylor and his colleagues are working to motivate Cubides and other students to pursue their dreams and become successful adults.

“I was helping kids with their homework in another nonprofit when I met people from MBC,” said Cubides. “Cycling isn’t something you would see every day where I come from, but they said it would be good for me to build relationships with people and be in nature. They even made an exception for me to try it out just to see if I was interested, so I figured I would try it out.” Read more about Cubides’ experience.

Momentum Bike Clubs are a chance for the Clemson community to make a difference in the lives of young people in the Upstate. Through their initiatives, they have already positively impacted many students and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.

When asked where he saw himself in five years, Taylor responded, “Supporting and encouraging a group of Momentum students to be first-generation college students.”

This initiative gives underserved students the mentorship and guidance needed to direct them toward bright, exciting futures, one bicycle at a time.

 

Meet more Tigers here, and check out #FacesOfClemson on Instagram.