This Saturday, June 1st, we’ll return to Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence (106 Appenheimer Avenue, off of Fillmore) for another free and inclusive Bike Stampede in partnership with BestSelf Behavioral Health. Our Dr. Lydia T. Wright Bike Stampede will start at 1pm as the culmination of BestSelf’s Saturday Academy, which begins at 10am with an array of activities detailed below.

Presented by Independent Health, our non-Monday rides are usually smaller and slightly faster than Slow Roll Mondays, depending on our partner – in this case starting from a school, we’ll keep the pace slow to accommodate kids.

According to her profile on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Freedom Wall, on which she’s honored by artist and Slow Roll collaborator Edreys Wajed, Dr. Lydia T. Wright was “[Buffalo’s] first African American pediatrician, serving generations of children in the community over what would be a thirty-six year career as a physician.

“In 1962, Wright was elected to the Board of Education, vowing to be ‘the community’s voice during Board debates on school racial integration.’ At the time, Buffalo public schools were among the most dramatically segregated in the country and their integration over the course of the 1960s was highly contentious. In 1963, Wright was the only Board member to vote against a plan to district the new Woodlawn Junior High School so that it would be exclusively African American; following a petition by the local branch of the NAACP, the school was forcibly desegregated by the New York State Education Department two years later. During her five years on the Board, Wright fought to develop busing and redistricting plans that would more evenly distribute African American and white students across schools in the district. As a draw for students and their families, she proposed that each high school have a specialization—an idea that anticipated the city’s current magnet school system. In 2000, the Buffalo Common Council agreed to name a new school the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence in honor of ‘her struggle to integrate our school system and to get people to know one another and appreciate one another for who they are, regardless of color or creed.’”

Dr. Lydia T. Wright on The Freedom Wall by Edreys Wajed – photo by Tom Loonan

Learn more below about Saturday Academy and our Dr. Wright’s Bike Stampede from Say Yes Community Schools Navigator Gretchen Dade.

What is the mission of a Community Schools Navigator?

To build bridges between families and communities that foster improved student learning and increased parent engagement, and results in healthier students. Community Schools seeks to increase school attendance, parent engagement, access to adult education and social services, and access to health and wellness initiatives such as this Bike Stampede, all while providing creative supplemental education in STEAM, ELA, foreign languages, social emotional development and much more.

What are the biggest challenges to achieving that mission?

Ensuring that community members are aware that Community Schools are not just for its students, but its surrounding neighborhood residents – whether they be individuals, families, seniors, young adults, or children. Community Schools are for any City of Buffalo resident to enjoy. And they have! Our families have a great deal of fun engaging with each other!

What inspires you personally to do this work?

My love for providing creative strategies and tried-and-true methods to enrich the lives of children and community members.

What led you to partner with Slow Roll?

Slow Roll has rapidly gained a reputation as more than organizers of a bike ride, but a social movement that focuses on healthier citizens, environment-friendly activities, and collaboration with resourceful entities. It has also begun to provide passive entertainment to local residents who enjoy observing them going by, while planning to attend a ride themselves in the near future.

Why should Bike Stampede participants come early for Saturday Academy?

To experience all of the activities, learn about resources, enjoy a free breakfast and lunch all before they join the Bike Stampede. We have also prepared a special activity for Slow Rollers as well as the local community in our Community Meet & Greet Activity and Our Great Book Barter Activity! Come this Saturday also for free haircuts, swim instruction for those over the age of 12, free henna tattoos and makeup tutorials, our Basketball competition, bingo, new exotic animals and more!