U.S. Olympic cyclist Giddeon Massie often times has the opportunity to inspire the nation when he participates in quarterly competitions, but most of the time, his hands-on mentorship in local schools inspires Los Angeles youth to stay away from gangs and drugs through the sport of cycling and the LA LA Bike Club.
Four years ago, two teachers from the Los Angeles Leadership Academy in Lincoln Heights, Andreas Krumpl and David Villanueva, attempted to tackle youth gang activity and drug use by co-founding the LA LA Bike Club to keep students engaged during after school hours.
"They are going to be our future leaders, our future presidents, our future doctors, or our future gang members, our future drug dealers and our future homeless," Krumpl said. "We rather have them be the former."
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Krumpl added that students need to have at least a 2.0 grade-point average in school to join the club.
At first, the program only had a handful of students participating, but the recent introduction of Massie to the club has helped boost club membership to about 50 kids. The two-time Olympian previously visited the LA Leadership Academy as a member of the Ready Set Gold program, where Olympic athletes mentor LAUSD students.
"I think it is growing because they are inspired by us," Sofia Lopez, an LA Leadership Academy student, said. "They want to learn more and exercise."
The children and their club supervisors, including Massie, hop on donated bikes, strap in their helmets and take weekly rides around the community.
"What I try to promote is hard work, staying focused and dedicated," Massie said.