by Shae Hogan
My time in this program has been all about stepping outside of my comfort zone. So when I saw the opportunity to do an activity I loved while also supporting an amazing cause, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. What I’m talking about is the first-ever Pedal-Topia, hosted by Communitopia, which was a 17-mile bike ride fundraiser that aimed to further climate change education for youth in the Pittsburgh area. Now, I had never done that long of a bike ride before and, being new to the city, didn’t think I could talk to anyone else into it, so I had to take a leap out of my comfort zone. I was extremely nervous but equally excited as it came to the day of the ride. I found out one of my close friends, and co-student, and his fiancée were equally interested in going, and so we met up and rode to the meeting point.
We met some of the most kind and welcoming people that had the same passion for climate action as we did. Once everyone was acquainted, and we had done some Pittsburgh trivia icebreakers, we headed off on the ride. It was a beautiful day for a bike ride and before we knew it, we were at the first resting point. From there we rode all the way to Kennywood Amusement Park, our halfway point, where you could see some of the rollercoasters from the trail. After this, we rode back past the meeting point and to a restaurant where we joined each other for lunch and the Pittsburgh Youth for Climate Action award ceremony.
At lunch, we really got to talk with everyone and learn more about Communitopia as a whole. They are a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit whose goal is to reduce climate change and create healthier communities. By hosting events like this one, as well as many other programs, they hope to spread knowledge of climate change and empower every person to take action. As I walked away from this event I felt empowered, not only from being surrounded by people full of passion, but also from stepping out of my comfort zone and creating lasting memories and connections. Furthermore, this experience justified the idea that growth lies in discomfort. As I move through this program, I am forced to grow every day and as I look back on the beginning, I already feel more confident, prepared, and connected to my values.