GTPulse: Norte Will Extend Services to Antrim County With New Coordinator

Governor Whitmer may be extending Michigan’s state of emergency, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck indoors the entire time. Avid bikers, hikers, walkers and nature enthusiasts need not worry, outside still isn’t canceled. As long as people are practicing social distancing and safety, being outside and getting fresh air in your lungs will help with some of the restlessness and anxiety many of us are feeling at the moment. A big advocate for getting outdoors, especially in these COVID-19 days, is Norte. The Traverse City bike-centric, youth-focused nonprofit is dedicated to getting kids comfortable with bikes and safely out in the city with them. When all of this pandemonium is over, Norte is extending their bike programs to Antrim County so kids in those communities can join in on the fun too.

“Through all of this, I think Norte is staying as current as possible just by continuing our mission to ride safe, healthy and to engage in your community. Through this pandemic, I really think that Norte is going to come out on the other side because we’re still striving for our mission and it engages with the crisis that is going on,” Lauren Dake, the new Antrim County Coordinator for Norte said.

Lauren had just signed on to work as the coordinator for Antrim County before the Stay Home Stay Safe executive order was put into place, so she hasn’t gotten to get her feet too wet with work yet. Despite the chaos, she’s excited to bring her love of biking to Antrim County through Norte.

Lauren is from New York state and was working under the Michigan Fitness Foundation when she graduated college. The foundation is a supporter of Norte’s and led Lauren to meet Ty Schmidt, co-founder of Norte.

“I met Ty a number of years ago at a bike safety conference down in Mount Pleasant. I was there attending because I’m a planning commission member for Elk Rapids, so I was attending on that behalf, and also I’m a pro-bike supporter. [Ty] was there with Norte so that’s where we connected.”

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that Ty asked Lauren to teach some bike classes for Norte’s Estrella’s program, a balance bike program for preschool-aged children.

“I also taught the Bike Mas after school safety program, and kind of just kept going with that, but always striving to want to work more with Norte.”

She got what she wanted. She was offered a position with Norte late winter to get Antrim County more active, and she happily accepted. What does getting Antrim County more active look like?

“We’re starting with Elk Rapids because Elk Rapids has had such a strong presence with Norte through our village and through our DDA and our Parks and Rec Department. So we’re kind of starting and piloting in Elk Rapids. All the things we’re offering to Elk Rapids students we’re going to be offering to Mancelona kids, Rapid City kids, Central Lake kids, Ellsworth kids. All of that is to come, this is all brand new to us.”

The summer will bring a youth mountain bike club that will meet at Maplehurst Natural Area in Kewadin that will teach kids how to safely mountain bike through trails. There will also be a week-long summer camp program where kids will get dropped off in the morning and picked up later in the afternoon.

Things may look a bit bleak right now, but this won’t last forever and nothing will stop Northern Michigan from having the idyllic summer that we all intently wait for. The other day my mom was talking about how after the last pandemic (Spanish Flu in 1918) people were ready to have fun, get out and enjoy every scrap of life that they could. I think that it will be the same for us after, and Norte sprinkling some of their biking pixie dust over Antrim County is only another reason to be excited for what’s to come.

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Categories: GTPulse