It's the best day of the summer when students get to take home the bike they worked so hard to earn. We had a group of graduates wrap-up their program last night and it never gets old seeing how far they've come and how much they've grown!
Earn-a-Bike Graduation 101
Step 1: Get fitted for a t-shirt and helmet
Step 2: Fill out your last journal entry about the skills you've developed and experiences you've had
Step 3: Choose a book, journal, and bike accessory to take home with you from prize box
Step 4: Graduation Relay---> Use a chain tool, identify the parts of a bike, complete a tool quiz, do the safety check quiz, and answer social skills trivia!
Step 5: Award and certificate ceremony / cheers / claps / snaps for all your effort and enthusiasm!
Step 6: Test out that new bike on a bike ride along the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail
Step 7: Eat cupcakes and celebrate your hard work
We are always so honored when a parent wants to write a recommendation for the program based on their child's experience.
Yesterday one of our Earn-a-Bike program students, Sam, came to our weekly Fix program to make up a mechanic lesson he missed at Earn-a-Bike this summer. He worked on his bike with one of our instructors, Aaron, and then headed into the Youth Lounge and spent an hour or so building with legos with Leah, a weekly volunteer. They chatted and played while his mom looked on, smiling. Here is what she had to say:
"I’m the parent of Samuel. He was introduced to this program by his Wrap Around worker with Kalamazoo’s Community Mental Health Wrap Around program. Sam has had huge social struggles in his young life. This program has introduced Sam to skills he needs to advocate his social world in the community, school, home, church, etc.. This program has brought so much positive progress to Sam’s social skills and applying them to real world situations. It has used his interests to build them skills. I have seen more progress in Sam’s ability to communicate his wants and needs during the time he’s had in this program. We have numerous years of counseling and therapy to which we’ve seen little to no progress as compared to what this Open Roads program has done for him. I’ve seen his confidence in himself become so much more progressive and have more positive results than I’ve seen with him in his whole life through the countless hours of therapy and counseling. I feel this program needs to stay an option for kids like my son. I feel this program a necessary component to Sam’s social needs and would hope to see it stay open to other kids like Sam who have trouble navigating their social environments. The people here are great! They know of Sam’s struggles and have all worked collaboratively to help Sam improve these skills. To the child struggling and the parent wondering what to do. I’d like to say this program may be what your child needs. I would recommend them to anyone looking to help their child improve social skills and articulate the world around them. It’s more than the bike! It’s the smile you see on your child’s face you may not have seen in awhile. It’s the people involved. It’s the confidence you see your child gain you may have thought was lost. I am so glad we found this program for him!"
32! That's the number of kids that checked in at the Fix today here at our shop. In 2015, our first Fix at the new location here at Riverview had six kids. We have come a long way and we have all of YOU to thank for supporting our growth! Our new youth lounge was standing-room only for about an hour at the peak of our program- filled with kids waiting their turn to make their bike safe and functional. Those kids played games, ate healthy snacks, read books, made drawings, and built with legos.
A HUGE thank you goes out to our entire staff and volunteer team who made sure every student left with a safe bike (or a request to return to finish their bike), a book, a full stomach, and (new this summer) some of them even earned themselves helmets and bike locks through a scholarship.
We can't do it all by ourselves, but we can do it all together. Thanks for joining us on this journey and investing in these students!
Posts Provided By:
Erin Denay, Executive Director - In Coordination with: Open Roads staff and board members, youth and parents, and dedicated program partners