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!
Where has the time gone? Mid-July got here in a hurry! We've been soaking up every minute of our summer programming and so many good things are happening around the shop! The Summer I Earn-a-Bike session is in full-swing and we've got an incredible group of students working hard each week to build up their bicycles! They graduate tomorrow night with their bikes, locks, helmets, certificates, shirts, and photo packets. Next week we'll start the Summer II program with 12 kids!
"He loves the program!! Every Tuesday he comes home basically yelling with joy/ happiness telling us what he did!" - Earn-a-Bike parent
"She LOVES her bike & is SO excited about being able to help build it! This is an amazing program & I would just like to thank you and the entire staff for the work your doing for these kids and the community!" - Earn-a-Bike parent
The weekly Fix programs have been busy and full of bike repair, pizza (thanks to our amazing and incredibly generous pizza donors) and fun! S/O to our program partners dedicated to ensuring their students have access to a mode of transportation they can learn to maintain themselves: Peace House, El Concilio, Kalamazoo Public Library, and New Village Park. We've been seeing record numbers especially at our Thursday Fix programs here at our own shop so far this summer! Dozens of students are returning each week and we're meeting new students each day. Our team has been cranking out safe bikes with their youth partners and the new Youth Lounge has become a hot spot for science experiments, paper airplane contests, reading, and creative pursuits! We have a handful of volunteers who have been making Thursdays successful with our staff team: Isyss, Doc, and Leah to name a few!
1st Mondays with Bike the Zoo have been so much fun! These free, drop-in public rides are open to all and take place the 1st Monday of each month through October starting at 6pm. Rides start and end at the PFC Grocery & Deli: 507 Harrison St in Kalamazoo. Youth Advisory Board members at Open Roads are ride leaders! We are grateful for their leadership and the support of Bike the Zoo for this exciting opportunity for our students in programs to practice their leadership skills. Join us for the next ride on Monday, August 6th! Last month youth board members Josh and David took the lead and even got to speak with Public Media Network about their work. Check that video out here.
We are so grateful for the support that makes our busy summer program season a possibility! If you are looking for ways to support right now, here are a few:
- We are looking for donations of legos for the youth lounge!
- We can use all of the gently used (or new, of course) bike locks you can give!
- You can give your time to help us out on Thursdays as a volunteer!
- Recurring, monthly donations are easy to setup! Even $10 per month will provide one helmet each month to a student who earns a bike.
Posts Provided By:
Erin Denay, Executive Director - In Coordination with: Open Roads staff and board members, youth and parents, and dedicated program partners