ELKIN — A new mural in Elkin celebrates the one-year anniversary of the Trips for Kids group which provides bicycle trail rides for children. Since the group first began last fall, it has taken 13 rides, serving more than 100 kids, said group organizer Mary Keller.
“Our local Elkin Valley community has far surpassed our expectations of generosity,” she said. “Twelve volunteers have provided over 50 volunteer hours the past year. We have also received 20 donated bikes. These bikes are available for kids who don’t have their own, or have outgrown their bike, and also for adults who volunteer to help lead our rides. Every ride has a ratio of one adult for every four kids. Every kid is provided a helmet and we review bike safety and trail etiquette before riding 3.5 miles on the Elkin and Alleghany Rail trail.”
Artists Sarah and Andrew McWilson, of Hand in Hand Creative, who painted the large mural featuring the Forest Bathing trail on the wall across from The Tribune office in downtown Elkin are responsible for the new bike mural, across from the Fire Department. The painting marks the storage building were the Trips for Kids bikes are kept.
“We found such an alignment with the heart behind Trips for Kids and our own heartfelt interest in connecting with nature and oneself through physical movement,” said Sarah.
“We can’t imagine a better setting for trail rides than the E&A rail trail. What a resource for this community and for TFK Elkin Valley, one we’ve deeply enjoyed our own time on,” Sarah added.
While the mural depicts an image of children on bicyles on the trail, it represents so much more, Sarah explained.
“To us, this mural isn’t just about riding bikes. It’s about getting outside of yourself and finding that freedom to connect on a deeper level — with yourself and with the natural world. It has undertones of the cycles of life and the season we’re in,” she said.
Painting on such a large scale and in an open area visible to all passers-by is something important to Andrew and Sarah.
“We aim to paint a mural as we would paint artwork in a studio,” Andrew explained. “The steps are freeing, resistant, critiqued, adjusted, and given life through this process. We see walls as canvases. And we see the town as a gallery. And the admission is free.”
“Much like our Main Street mural, this painting shows a moment in time — one that can be seen as quite simple or everyday, but by blowing it up to 20 feet tall it is as if to say, ‘these ordinary things need praise.’ We feel these ordinary moments are life-giving,” Andrew said.
“This snapshot from one of Trips For Kids’ rides captures a very special act and setting — riding bikes on the trail through the trees, along the creek, and alongside one’s peers. A chance to connect with the sounds of nature while pedaling, which can be a very meditative action, is sometimes all it takes to go from a feeling of ‘misalignment’ to ‘all right,’” he said. “Our greatest achievement with this mural would be for someone to see it and have a spark to engage with physical movement, the trail system, or in the best case scenario, see one’s whole life as an opportunity to find joy and connection in the ordinary.”
Keller said she was thrilled to partner with the McWilson’s and so pleased with the mural. Keller said she hopes the group will continue to grow and continue to offer group rides with elementary age kids, as well as introduce some mountain bike rides for older kids, hopefully using the new trail in Jonesville at the new Double Bluffs recreation area.
Keller is currently working on a grant request to fund having a professional mountain biker and instructor host a training clinic to get kids prepared for single track riding.
For more information on Trips for Kids visit the Trips For Kids Elkin Valley page on Facebook or email Tfkelkinvalley@gmail.com. For more information on Andrew and Sarah’s art, visit handinhandcreative.org.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Instagram and Twitter @news_shewrote.