Sometimes it’s easy for us roadies and bike commuters to forget about what a bike can mean to a kid. In many cases a bike can give a teenager freedom – at 15 my bike gave me the ability to get to and from work – and, let’s face it, bikes are just plain fun, no matter how old you are. The Latin American Youth Center in D.C. is harnessing that appeal to get kids into the center.
Nicholas, 13, is among more than a dozen middle and high school-age youths who participate in the center’s bike shop program each year, through which they repair and restore donated bikes and ride and keep the bikes they have fixed, said Luisa Montero, director of the Maryland branch of LAYC, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit youth development agency.
Its focus is on bicycle repairs, but the program is more specifically aimed at reaching and assisting youth, Montero said.
In the short term these kids end up with a safe after school activity and a bike to ride around. In the long term kids are learning valuable skills (this coming from the guy that screws up just about every bike repair he attempts) and getting experience working toward a goal.