She wants to promote community care!
Iresha Picot is a licensed behavioral therapist currently residing in West Philadelphia, Philly Mag reports. Despite her profession, Picot felt the stress of the pandemic and quarantine just like everyone else, remembering her childhood growing up in Franklin, Virginia, and returning to her love of biking as a way to cope.
“[My mother would] drop me off at daycare by bike…Biking brought me so much joy and touched on my inner child, gave me a better appreciation for nature, and allowed me to move my body, which was so good for my mental health. It also gave me something to look forward to, especially during a time when days were bleeding into each other,” Picot recalled.
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Apparently, Picot wasn’t the only one in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia’s Kelly Drive reporting a 471 percent increase in bike riders between March 2019 and March 2020. With the convenience of Indego bikes, a Philly-based bike-sharing company, Picot found herself riding more often, eventually inviting her friends to join her. However, she soon realized that many of her friends either didn’t know how to ride a bike or hadn’t ridden in forever, sparking a new idea for the cycling enthusiast.
“It was then that I thought that one day, I’d like to be able to teach my friends how to ride a bike or start a bike-riding group,” said Picot.
That thought gave birth to Black Girl Joy Bike Rides, a new cycling community created by Picot. This past November, she received a $2,000 grant from Community Green Grant, an extension of Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Deeply Rooted Collaborative to fund her efforts. The collaborative is a program that focuses on “[increasing] community-based nature initiatives and [improving] health in Black and brown Philadelphia neighborhoods.” The funding will allow Picot to purchase Indego bike passes for 10 women along with helmets through the fall. She will also offer a trained cyclist for attendees looking to learn how to ride a bike or brush up on their skills.
The group is set to meet weekly and it is completely free to join. Picot is also encouraging those with their own bicycles to join Black Girl Joy Bike Rides, hoping that her initiative can be a way to encourage community and a deeper level of care.
“I would love for this to be a nice act of community care. We all hear ‘self-care,’ but a lot of people either don’t know what that actually means or have a difficult time prioritizing it. I think self-care done in a community setting can lovingly hold people accountable to show up for themselves. I hope these joy rides do that – people need people. I hope we build sisterhood, and that people feel good moving their bodies and have fun doing it,” said Picot.
The first Black Girl Joy Bike Rides community event is set to take place on Sunday, April 23rd from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. The group will start on Belmont and Parkside Avenues in Philadelphia. To learn more information or contact Picot, send her a message on Instagram @IreshaDaHoodTherapist.
Cover photo: Philly woman launches free cycling community for Black women/Photo Courtesy of Iresha Picot/Philly Mag