The Bridge School

I have been trying to train for this bike trip, but am approaching it in a holistic way. Instead of just going on long rides each weekend, I am trying a whole-body-improvement thing. It started by finally watching the Star Wars movies, which, being a human, I obviously now love. Then last week I changed my first bike flat tire. I would say that it’s impressive I have been biking for about seven years and have never changed a tire; only it’s actually just embarrassing. I don’t know how I avoided it for so long. In high school I somehow never got a flat, then in college I had friends who would change them for me. After moving to Denver it became one of those things that was so embarrassing I had no excuse but to avoid it at all costs. One time last year I got a flat and walked my bicycle four miles to a bike shop and bought a new tube so that they would change it. Each weekend I intend to go for a long ride, but I compromise with myself by learning more about The Bridge School instead.

I grew up in a household where Neil Young’s music was played every day. When I look back on my life, that and episodes of Seinfeld fill the background of every memory. It wasn’t just Neil’s music that I grew up loving, but through my parents I learned about his projects with other musicians, his LincVolt car project, and, obviously, The Bridge School. I used to think that The Bridge School was for kids with cerebral palsy, because Neil has two sons with it. I would listen to his album, Trans, and try to grasp the difficulty Neil and Pegi had communicating with their son, Ben. As I grew older, my understanding of the school branched out slightly, to where I associated it more with the annual benefit concert each October, but it wasn’t until deciding to fundraise for them that I took the time to learn more about the school apart from Neil Young’s influence.

Pegi Young, Jim Foreder and Dr. Marilyn Buzolich founded The Bridge School in 1986 in the Bay Area of California. The school is known for being a leader in the field of argumentative and alternative communication (AAC), working with students with severe speech and physical disabilities to teach them how to best thrive in their communities. So many Bridge School students enter the school unable to express themselves in a way others can understand, but the school works with them to help the students be heard.

When people ask why Kloe and I chose The Bridge School, I realize that the answer is a lot less exciting than I think it is. In the same way that the entire trip fell into place, so did this decision. We had been brainstorming different organizations for about a week before a friend inadvertently suggested it.

“Why don’t you do something related to your dad,” she said.

My dad is all about Neil Young, bricks, and gardens. Duh, I thought, Kloe and I can raise money for overweight bricklayers who grow tomatoes. Google didn’t turn up too many results, though, and then it finally hit me that The Bridge School would be perfect.  The more I learn about it, the more I respect the school and all that it does. I have also been into watching the BridgeSchooler YouTube channel, which is really interesting and I highly suggest it.


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