Written by Scott Mills
Mike Heaton, a retired alternative school teacher with a passion for BMX is the leader of what has become informally known as "Team Michael Heaton". A team of community volunteers has rallied around Mike Heaton's vision of building more BMX bike parks to engage our youth with life skills surrounding the BMX sport, with the goals of success and safety for our youth. The list of contributors is endless. This group of people are honoured to work with Mike Heaton on a regular basis, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make TorontoBMX a success. We are very proud to be involved in a number of projects that will help to benefit the BMX community. Our projects include spearheading the creation of new parks in the downtown Toronto area and elsewhere, as well as organizing the TORONTO BMX JAM that is part of the Toronto International Bicycle Show held at Exhibition Place in Toronto annually in March. Many of the ramps used at the torontoBMXjam have become part of a FREESTYLE BMX PARK at Wallace Emerson Park (Dufferin and Dupont area of Toronto). Ramps were located on the outdoor rink just south of the Community Centre. There is also a 500 foot clay/dirt track at the west end of the Wallace Emerson park. The ramps are on loan by Mike to the riders of Toronto for the summer riding months, as plans call for them becoming a part of future show courses. Over time, TorontoBMX, in collaboration with the Young President's Association, the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto Crime Stoppers Youth Program, was behind getting some BMX ramps at the Toronto Community Housing building parking lot located at 75 Tandridge Cr in Toronto. This project has resulted in the BMX sport helping youth succeed, and focus on positive programs, in stead of a life of guns, gangs and drugs. This project continues to search for sustainable funding and programming. Many of the stories of the history of Mike Heaton and TorontoBMX are chronicled on a number of Youtube (http://Youtube.com/TorontoBMX ) videos that have been mostly filmed by Toronto Police Service officer Constable Scott Mills, who is also the Social Media Advisor for Crime Stoppers International. You can find a number of these videos by a simple search on the Internet of "Toronto BMX". Scott has also engaged youth in the city in a project to paint graffiti images on all of our ramps. Not only does this painting help to extend the life of the ramps, the images look great. The entire painting-the-ramps project became a part of the 2007 Grey Cup BMX Youth Engagement event. Many of the story of this graffiti art community building project can be seen on youtube here: http://Youtube.com/LegalGraffitiArt Social media for success and safety is an underlying theme of the continued work of BMX. Free and open access to BMX riding facilities is a long term goal of TorontoBMX Toronto Parks, Recreation and Forestry, under the leadership of Recreationist Al Crawford organizes summer programmes for BMX riders at Wallace Emerson Park each summer, and we are currently searching for funding for the Tandridge location, and other indoor year round facilities both inside and outside of Toronto. We are very open to discussing any possibilities, and are very excited to have a new website in time for the Toronto BMX Jam 2012 designed by Rob Cairns that will allow us to celebrate our past and hopefully provide some education for the world about who we are and what we do, to make the BMX sport bigger and better in Toronto.