GREEN BAY, Wis. Kids who may not be able to afford a bike can now 'earn-a-bike' with a new program by the non-profit Green Bay Bicycle Collective. The program teaches them how to own a bike before they get to ride one home.
Program leaders teach kids how to put a bike together at the GBBC garage
Tire maintenance, brake upkeep, helmet safety and life skills are some of the things kids are learning at the GBBC garage on 4th Street and South Broadway in Green Bay.
"They get to learn a skill, they get to learn how to work with tools, work well in an environment with tools and around other people,” said Mark Woosencraft, Vice President of the Green Bay Bicycle Collective. “You know they get to take that knowledge with them.”
The Earn-a-Bike program is in its test period and hopes to expand once all program details are established. The first group of boys to try out the program came from Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living, a foster care and at-risk youth support organization.
"They come with a lot of background, more than me, so sometimes they're actually teaching me things,” said Cano Padilla, a service and peer specialist at Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living. “I've seen them grow, just be able to focus, listen and identify problems, you know thinking about tools or thinking about what they're going to need to fix the problem or you know get the job done so it's been amazing."
In order for a child to earn a bike they have to meet a certain amount of volunteer credits, for example a child who works five to six hours on a bike can get a $30 bike from the GBBC garage. If that child wants a $100 bike, then they have the ability to earn more volunteer credits.
For now the program operates three hours every Friday morning. Each week the kids learn a new skill.
The kids can claim their credits for bike parts if they already own a bike. Every participant will also receive a helmet, lights and a lock.
"It's a freedom machine,” said Woosencraft. “You might not be old enough to drive or you might not want to take the bus, but once you have your bike you can go anywhere.”