With the rain clouds parting to beautiful sunshine, kids from the Earn-A-Bike program mounted up to ride the fire road into the Forest of Nisene Marks. Along the way we tried out some of the skills development areas and side spurs.
Stopping for lunch at George’s Picnic Area, we spotted wild mushrooms springing up out of the ground, and looked for salamanders and crawfish around the creek. One kid really got into the search.
Steve Piercy from TFKSC was the ride leader, along with Tawn Kennedy who runs the Earn-A-Bike program.
Enjoy the video from our trip.
We have a special relationship with the Earn-A-Bike program in Watsonville. Our former president Roxanne Harrison wrote a grant to fund a similar program, but unfortunately it did not get funded. Realizing the importance of such a program, Tawn Kennedy was inspired to try again with some minor adjustments, and this time received funding.
Through the program, middle school students learn about bike mechanics, on- and off-road bike safety, and earn a bicycle and other accessories. To earn the bikes, students participate in community service-learning projects such as helping with school gardens, monitoring wetland water quality, and volunteering at local youth-oriented events.
The program takes place in the Bike Tech classroom, a professional bike shop environment on the Pajaro Valley High School campus. Teen mentors, many of whom are graduates of the Bike Tech program, support middle school students to refurbish donated bikes, learn basic repairs, bike safety, and participate in on-bike field trips in Watsonville and beyond. Earn-A-Bike is made possible through a grant from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and numerous community partners including Santa Cruz County Regional Occupational Program (ROP), Project Bike Trip, Trips for Kids Santa Cruz, and donations from local bike shops and individuals.
Over the last few years, cycling has grown tremendously in Watsonville, especially among youth, but local community leaders cite the need for more access to bicycles. “We launched the Earn-A-Bike Program because we want to get bikes to students in need, help young people gain leadership skills, and build a culture of safe cycling in Watsonville,” says Tawn Kennedy, director of Green Ways to School. “We want all our participants and mentors to realize that they are ‘roll’ models; to obey traffic laws, and spread the message that cyclists have both rights and responsibilities while on the road.”
The Earn-A-Bike program is still in need of bikes to go to local youth. To donate a bike or find out more information, contact Tawn Kennedy at (831) 428-5109 or GreenWays@PeoplePowerSC.org.
Green Ways to School, a project of People Power of Santa Cruz County, works to encourage local teens to use active transportation whenever possible through assemblies, presentations, group rides, and other events. For more information, visit the website GreenWays2School.org.