From a Boneshaker Intern: My Experience

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By: Sarah Clark Ballard

As I finished my freshman year at the University of Texas, I knew I wanted to stay in the Austin area for the summer and take on an internship. I am a public relations major, and I wanted an internship that would expand my knowledge in the communication field. With some time thinking about what I wanted to do, I thought working at a nonprofit would be beneficial to me and my major. So, this summer I joined the team at Boneshaker Project as an intern. This included me working in the office and also going to Rosewood Park every Thursday morning to work directly with kids in the programs. While both aspects of working at a nonprofit were great experience, actually being with the kids was by far the most exciting and rewarding part of my summer. Every Thursday, Boneshaker would arrive to the park with a mobile fleet of bikes and lead fourteen eager kids in bike safety and proper etiquette lessons. Then the team would take all of the kids out on bike rides. Ultimately we were offering exercise in disguise: getting the kids active while still making it fun for them.

Every week we had the same group of kids, so I really got the chance to build actual relationships with them. One girl who really stood out to me was named Naomi. Day one of the program she was scared to death to get on the bike. The previous summer she fell off of her bike and broke her arm, so she was nervous to try again. Slowly but surely each week she would get a little bit braver. The two of us would always pair up and let the boys, who wanted to do crazy bike tricks, go ahead of us. Our little duo took our time as she slowly started to feel more comfortable with the bike. On the last day I was there, the two of us were actually keeping up with the boys. Seeing how much she progressed was an amazing thing to experience.

I also did not realize just how excited these kids would get when the Boneshaker group showed up. In the middle of the summer we had a two-week hiatus and did not go to Rosewood Park. The next time we came back, all of the kids were thrilled to see us, and so many said how not having Boneshaker there for two weeks was so boring. One boy named Andres came up to me and said he always looked so forward to getting up early on Thursday mornings because he knew he would be able to go bike riding with us. At that moment I realized how I take so many things in life for granted. The way these kids love Boneshaker really opened my eyes and showed me how getting kids active now can really make a huge impact in their lives.