Earlier this year, I wrote about the national trend of fewer and fewer kids opting outside to play and be active.

The thing is, I’ve noticed a different trend this spring and summer here in Traverse City. I’ve noticed more and more kids off the couch, off the screen and outside actively getting themselves to the places they need to go.

Kids like:

  • Roman Zagunis, who bikes from home in Orchard Heights neighborhood with his rod to fish at the mouth of the Boardman River.
  • Sisters Eleanor and Maggie Olds, who often walk from their home in Old Town neighborhood to the library to check out books.
  • CJ Forsyth, Tripp Bevier, and Jack and Max Matchett, who biked to school at Eastern Elementary every single day last year.
  • Brody Day, a seventh-grader at East Middle, who rides from his home in Holidays Hills to mountain bike with friends at the Commons.
  • Brothers Ronin and Calvin Wilson, who walk to school at Traverse Heights Elementary nearly every day.
  • 4-year-old Charlie Bulloch, who bikes to Oryana from his home in Oak Park neighborhood with his mom to get groceries.
  • First-grader Nettie Sketch, who regularly bikes to Clinch and East Bay Parks with her family to go swim.
  • 12-year-old Kinsey Hintz, who walks to the BATA stop near her home to ride the free Bayline downtown to see a movie at the State with friends.
  • Central High sophomore Evan Coulter, who bikes to work at Brick Wheels from his home in Holiday Hills.
  • All those — and there are a lot! — who skate, bike and scooter to our wonderfully popular Civic Center Skate Park.

Seeing these kids safely and freely roam their neighborhood makes me smile. It’s an indicator of a healthy, vibrant town. It means that, as a community, we’re getting things right.

Things like safe, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.

Things like accessible parks, libraries, schools, trails and businesses.

Things like a strong sense of community and tightly woven social fabric where neighbors know each other and look out for each other’s kids.

As a Traverse City resident, father of two boys, and director of Norte, a youth-focused, walk/bike advocacy organization that empowers kids — and those who love them — to be active for life, these things give me hope for a bright future here in this amazing place we call home.

Keep awesome, kids, and thanks for the inspiration. You’re alright.

Ty Schmidt is executive director of Norte! a youth-focused nonprofit dedicated to building walk/bike communities.

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