By focusing on the following skills and habits we help prepare the youth for success.
- Work Ethic
- Dress Code
- Proactive Posture
- Conflict Resolution
Whenever possible we delegate an area of responsibility to an individual or a team of youth. We are proactive in looking for these opportunities so that we can help the youth exercise their minds and develop/practice leadership skills.
Why? Unfortunately schools in neighborhoods like ours often work hard to manage and control the students to prevent them from getting in trouble with the “sit down and shut up” approach.
In contrast schools in suburban areas offer a lot of leadership opportunities for their students allowing their students to manage whole areas of the schools’ operation. This is just one of the aspects in which students in our urban public schools are disadvantaged compared to their suburban counterparts.
We teach the youth the skill of planning by expecting them to think through the entire process of accomplishing a task. For example if a team of youth are responsible to plan a bike trip they are expected to think through all details from transportation through safety all the way to snacks etc.
Another area of focus is organization and time management. This helps prepare the youth to be aware of what it takes to accomplish a goal, set milestones to hit along the way and stay on track. This is a necessary skill for success in the workplace.
One of the more obvious goals of this program is to provide youth in our community a positive way to get their own bicycle. Other organizations providing bicycles to urban youth and children are reporting that bicycle ownership has reduced kids’ tendency to cause and get in trouble. They are also attributing decreased crime in their communities directly to increased bicycle ownership.
Another reason bicycle ownership is important is that in low income communities bicycles often become the only means of transportation or allow individuals to get to a transit station to get to their place of work or education.
Through our program we teach the youth the importance of bicycle maintenance. Similar to a house, a car, a computer, one’s teeth etc. a way to ensure that these continue to serve for a long time is to take good care of them.
The nature of bicycle repair naturally brings conversation to how maintenance could have prevented this or that problem which is now difficult and costly to repair.
Through earning and tracking of “shop bucks” the youth learn the following:
- Setting Goals
- Managing Money
The youth that go through our program inevitably get familiar with the workings of a bicycle. For some it may mean a future job, for some a passion but for all of them it becomes a documented job experience and a skill they can claim on their resumes.
In early 2011 we officially hired one of the students in our program as an assistant mechanic. We added another part-time teen employee in August 2012 and our goal is to provide employment for teens in our neighborhood for leadership/management positions in the program. These positions are set up as real jobs, with paychecks and W9’s, performance reviews and performance-based pay raises and we use every teachable opportunity.