Accessibility. One of our biggest concerns here at VMBA is how to make this sport accessible to more Vermonters. At its core, mountain biking is fun – and doesn’t everyone deserve to have the kind of fun mountain biking offers? With this ethic in mind, VMBA launched our Community Builder Program last year to promote organizations whose expressed mission is to create better access for populations who might otherwise have difficulty finding inroads to mountain biking. The program started with Vermont Adaptive and Pride Rides VT, and Vermont Youth Cycling joined in early 2023. VMBA members can support these organizations and the communities they serve by adding one or more of our Community Builder partners to your primary VMBA membership, just as you would an additional VMBA Chapter. So who are these Community Builder partners, and why is their connection to VMBA and the support from our members so important?
Independence, camaraderie, and FUN are things that mountain biking can offer any individual who finds their way onto a trail, and Vermont Adaptive is working to extend those opportunities to persons with disabilities here in Vermont. Known world-wide for their adaptive ski program, Vermont Adaptive has extended their programming to other sports as well, with a big focus on mountain biking on Vermont’s adaptive-friendly trails. VMBA has whole-heartedly signed on as a partner in this mission, supporting Vermont Adaptive through our Chapters as they design and build more accessible trails. Jeff Alexander, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Vermont Adaptive, explains how “it’s important for [Vermont Adaptive] to partner with VMBA as they are a leader in the industry and have the overall reach to every Chapter in the state, which helps us create an accessible Vermont.”
VMBA is excited to help Vermont Adaptive and our state’s community of persons with disabilities gain more access to adaptive equipment, adaptive-friendly programming, and the expansion of adaptive-friendly trails and bike parks. Alexander details the organization’s mission, pointing out that “Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports maintains one of the largest adaptive mountain bike programs in New England. We are committed to empowering individuals with disabilities. We promote independence and further equality through access and instruction to sports and recreational activities. Mountain Biking provides a physical, mental and social experience that is immeasurable in promoting self-confidence and independence in an individual, plus it’s FUN! EveryBODY deserves the opportunity to play in Vermont!”
As to their partnership with VMBA, Alexander lauds the fact that “VMBA and their [DEI] Committee have taken the lead on Accessible Trails Advocacy. It’s now a collaborative effort where we will be assessing trails for accessibility throughout the state, which in turn will become a guide on the VMBA website for Adaptive Mountain Bikers.” Moreover, the Community Builder partnership with VMBA helps raise money and add support to the non-profit organization. “The funds from Vermont Adaptive ‘Add-ons’ will be split in half, explains Alexander. “One half will go towards maintaining our adaptive mountain bike fleet, and the other [half to a] grant fund [for] Chapter [use towards] accessible trail upgrades. It’s a win/win for everyBODY!”
So consider Vermont Adaptive as a Community Builder add-on to your VMBA membership. Your support will go directly to create more opportunities for persons of all abilities. We want to ensure that the VMBA community is open and welcoming to all, and our Community Builder partners are instrumental in helping us accomplish that mission. Please support them and help make Vermont mountain biking more accessible and inclusive for everyBODY!