Respira grant will fund youth activities website

07/18/2019

Kids can ride bikes around Tomales Bay, enjoy a bonfire on Chicken Ranch Beach and skateboard at Mesa Park, thanks to a county park grant for Tomales Bay Youth Center that will be used to coordinate and connect the youth of West Marin. The grant will help pay for an online platform that will boost youth activities after a needs assessment last year found that parents wanted to know better what is happening for kids across West Marin. “Whether you live in Bolinas-Stinson, San Geronimo, Point Reyes or Tomales, there were parents who where interested in the activities happening in those four different areas,” said Madeline Hope, the director of the youth center. The new platform, which could end up in the form of either an app or a website, will provide a list of physical spaces and events where kids are welcome, and coordinate transportation across the region. By bringing different school communities together, “there’s more social exchange happening because there’s three times as many people compared to the small group of people they grew up with their entire life,” Ms. Hope said. The $10,000 grant, funded by Measure A tax dollars, is part of the Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program, “set up to foster partnerships with community organizations that share County Parks’ vision of expanding access to local disadvantaged residents for the enjoyment of Marin’s stunning natural resources,” a county press release stated. County Parks provides physical spaces where youth are welcome, Ms. Hope explained. Building upon the Tomales Bay Youth Center, she hopes to expand the network of free hangout spots by reaching out to businesses. “They’re kind of suspicious of young people showing up. We’re trying to say young adults need to be welcome in the space to hang out on the couches, charge their phone,” she said. The online platform will also help kids find mentors, coaches and allies. So, if there’s a young person interested in becoming a mechanic or a doctor, the platform will connect them to a caring adult in the field. “I think we can start doing some bridge building,” Ms. Hope said. Some money from the grant will support the youth center’s bike and skate clubs, which were started two years ago with the same grant. Emile Mulholland, a mountain biking coach who leads the program out of West Marin School, said funds from the grant maintain the mountain bikes so that middle schoolers can access an expensive sport for free. “The biggest thing for me is you are introducing kids to playing in nature, loving nature and being active,” he said. They do also practice balance, braking and cornering skills on school campus, but he prefers to get the kids out on trails, “being explorers.”