HISTORY OF GOING PLACES
In 2016, Going Places founder, Katie Blomquist, was a first-grade teacher in a low-income elementary school. She had a 6-year student named Jawan who wanted a bike for his birthday and it shocked Katie to learn he had never owned one. She wished she could buy him a bike, but that wasn’t possible on a teacher’s salary. It was something that Katie couldn’t get off her mind knowing Jawan was growing up without the joy of riding his own bike.
As Katie started to ask around her class, she realized that most of the kids had never owned a bike. Remembering her own childhood filled with joyful memories of riding her bike all around her neighborhood, she set out to change this sad realization. Katie had the idea to buy all 650 students in her school a brand new, high-quality bike by starting a GoFundMe campaign. With the help of Affordabike, a local Charleston custom bicycle shop, this idea became a reality.
Katie’s campaign went viral and some of the top news outlets in the country reported on it including Good Morning America, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, ABC World News, Time Magazine, USA Today, Post and Courier, and The Steve Harvey Show. The story behind Going Places was catching on fire throughout America. On March 30, 2017, she surprised every student at Pepperhill Elementary School with a brand new bike. After this successful event, Katie now had an even greater vision.
Her vision was to create a nonprofit whose mission was to bring Joy to children in need. To make that a reality, Katie would have to focus her efforts full time on this new venture, which meant stepping away from teaching. In June 2017, she got to work on building the dream of Going Places, which involved rallying the community around her cause. It was important to Katie that her supporters understood why there was a need for Joy in these children’s lives.
Numerous organizations focus on providing the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, yet one thing often overlooked for children is their social-emotional need for Joy. For many kids living in poverty, it is when they get home from school that the real stress begins. So why a bike?
These kids can live in less-than-desirable and unpredictable circumstances and a bike provides them with a sense of freedom and escape. It also builds self-worth by being the first item of value they can call their own. A bike can restore the innocence of childhood that many have had taken away.
A person may have all of the basic "needs" in life, but what kind of life is one without Joy? What kind of adult will a child grow up to be if they have lacked Joy?
We invite everyone in our community to join us on this ride of providing Joy to these children in need and letting them know that they deserve to go places in life.
We’re Going Places, Wanna Come?
ABOUT GOING PLACES
One of Going Places’ core values is the local community supporting the local community. These children are growing up in, and most likely will remain as a adults, in our local community. We feel that as they grow up, they will see and understand that the community they live in rallied together to support them and bring them joy and this will hopefully affect the way they treat the community. This is why we have chosen to work with Affordabike. We are able to get the bikes almost at cost while still supporting their local business while in turn, Affordabike is supporting and giving back to the local community by working with us.
Going Places’ goal, though our “give a bike. Give joy.” program, to get every child in all 31 Title 1 elementary schools a new bike, lock, and helmet in a maximum of 8 years and then continue on, spreading the joy of a bike to our neighboring districts, expand state-wide, and become a national nonprofit!
Going Places also has the program, “give a surprise. give joy.” that spreads joy to all of the teachers and staff (this includes day-porter, kitchen staff, front desk, etc) that work in low income, high poverty elementary schools. There aren't many funds in the PTO or PTA to celebrate them and having been a title 1 teacher for 6 years, Katie knows all too well the stress that come from working in a title 1 school. Any bit of joy given, whether it be a gift, a cup of coffee, or a free lunch or breakfast, can really go along way in relieving some of the stresses of their day.
In 2018, we plan to implement the program, “give a costume. give joy.” where we will collect new or gently-used Halloween costumes for Title 1 elementary aged kids.