FreeWheels for Kids empowers kids with bikes. We started with simple Earn-a-Bike classes for middle school age students, but quickly realized that no matter how many bikes we repair, how many kids we reach, we still work in an environment that can be incredibly hostile to cyclists and youth, and to young cyclists in particular.
Thanks to funds from the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City we started Bike Club, a way for students to go on bike rides after school, get involved in community issues and take leadership roles in improving their neighborhoods.
We started Bike Clubs at some of our program sites in 2013 as a way to give kids the chance to articulate what they see as needs in their community, to improve their skills and to make their voices heard. Most importantly, we are giving kids the chance to get their hands dirty and to make change happen.
Bike Clubs at Rosedale Middle School, Central Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, Kansas have already identified projects where a little effort could go a long way toward improving the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in Wyandotte County. These students spent Fall 2013 carefully formulating their recommendations for improvements in their neighborhood, and presented those recommendations to the county commission of Wyandotte County in December. Their involvement has already made waves, but it is up to us and to them to hold feet to the fire and make it clear that when it comes to being able to bike or walk safely in their community, students aren’t willing to wait on regional master plans.
FreeWheels serves students from before they even enter school all the way up to high school, and we see and hear the need for better infrastructure and better conditions. Bike Club gives our youth, our “Master Mechanics” the chance to push hard for the changes they want to see from the city, and to go out and get their hands dirty building a better community for themselves and for their families. We empower kids, and when they say they need our help, we’re there. We hope you will join us.