Open Roads Bike Program is an 8-week summer or after-school program where youth meet once a week for 2-3 hours a day with: a mechanical skills instructor, a social skills instructor, and a group facilitator. Youth gain hands-on mechanic skills while learning social skills that will help them become successful in life.
Programs can be held at a location that meets your needs. Previously, classes have been held at The Boys and Girls Club, The Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo YMCA, and various middle schools in Kalamazoo.
In addition to learning valuable social skills and mechanical skills, all kids earn:
- A bicycle
- A learning journal
- A lock
- An Open Roads T-shirt
- A bike helmet
What kind of social skills do we teach?
The social skills taught at Open Roads are developed from an evidenced-based program called Skillstreaming. Youth are taught one new social skill each week. Each skill is broken down into basic steps that all kids can learn and demonstrate.
Some of the skills we focus on include: introducing yourself, listening, asking for help, sharing something, and apologizing. These skills are applied throughout the program and are reinforced by our staff.
One of the tools that Open Roads uses is Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports. This is a model of teaching youth appropriate behavior. Open Roads focuses on five simple ideas:
- R – Respect (Show kindness to other people in the program)
- O – Own your actions (If you do something great, tell someone!)
- A – Attitude counts (Stay positive while working on your bike or with a partner)
- D – Discipline (Finish what you started!)
- S – Safety (Always wear a helmet!)
This is how Open Roads works with kids. Instead of telling youth what NOT to do, they are told what is expected; they are taught how it looks and sounds, and are acknowledged for demonstrating these skills. And it works.
Participants are given a donated bike that needs some repair. As they repair the bike with the skills they are learning they are also gaining agency and ownership. Participants typically learn the following bike repair and maintenance skills:
- Checking and correcting tire pressure
- Repairing a leak in a tube
- Changing a tire
- and more!
Each session includes both a social skill and a mechanic skill:
- ROADS expectations – Bike tools, parts and purposes; Bike selection
- Introducing yourself – Cleaning the bike
- Listening – Fixing a flat
- Sharing something – Adjusting Brakes
- Asking for help – Repairing brakes
- Expressing yourself – Understanding the chain
- Apologizing – Adjusting the derailleur
- Skill review – Road check & ride
Partnering with Open Roads
If you are interested in having the Open Roads Bike Program at your school or organization, please contact Ethan Alexander, Program Director, here.