By ADRIAN RODRIGUEZ | firstname.lastname@example.org | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: October 27, 2018 at 3:53 pm | UPDATED: October 28, 2018 at 6:31 am
It was graduation week, which meant Linda, her 9-year-old brother Daniel, and their classmates in the Earn-a-Bike workshop, a Trips for Kids Marin program, had a chance to spruce up the bicycle that they would soon take home.
“Look how sharp this bike looks,” said Rogers Holmes, the program director, as he supervised the children at the nonprofit’s workshop in the Canal neighborhood. “We’re going to be rocking on these bikes, guys.”
For 30 years, Trips for Kids, a San Rafael-based nonprofit, has been helping underserved children learn how to build, maintain and ride bikes.
The Earn-a-Bike program launched in 1994, and since then, the nonprofit has offered afternoon lessons for youths on the nuts, bolts, gears, cranks and chains — and how each component helps the bike operate.
New this year is a syllabus-guided lesson plan incorporating principles of STEAM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math education that is popular in educational circles. The idea is to teach students such skills so they can succeed in real-world jobs.
“The class has become more structured, with each lesson tailored to the ability of the children in the class,” Holmes said. “Each week is scheduled to cover different subjects, for example, in week two, we learn to change a flat, but also go over what causes a flat.”
The nonprofit offers five eight-week sessions a year: two in the spring and fall and one in the summer. There are four groups of students per session that meet on a single day each week, Tuesday through Friday. Beginner, intermediate and advanced classes are offered, and children are grouped together accordingly.
Founded in 1988, the nonprofit that began in Marin is now a national agency that has served more than 200,000 children through its Discovery Trail Rides and Adventure Clubs programs. More than 12,000 kids across the states have participated in the Earn-a-Bike program.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the flagship San Rafael nonprofit operates on a $1.2 million budget with eight full-time and 14 part-time staff members. About half of the annual budget comes from the nonprofit’s Re-Cyclery Bike Shop, a community bike store offering discounted prices on new and used bikes, accessories and bike clothing. Additional funding comes from donations and fundraising events.
The popular Earn-a-Bike program has become a favorite for community members and the nonprofit leaders.
“It’s a rare opportunity for young people to learn a vocational skill,” said Kim Baenisch, executive director of the nonprofit.
“And for those who are interested, they can work toward an internship in the shop and then could also get a recommendation for a job at a local bike shop,” she said.
Parents love the program, too.
“Coming to class is motivation for them,” said Mayda Robles, mother of Linda and Daniel Gomez. “They help with chores, they read and do their homework so that they can come to class. The class is their reward. They are very happy.”
The class had such an impact on Eli Barajas, 14, that even after graduating, he continues to attend the afternoon sessions working as an assistant.
Barajas said biking has become a passion, “because of the exercise and I get to go on adventures.”
“The program keeps kids off the streets,” he said.
It’s a mission that Baenisch said she is happy to work toward for another 30 years.
“We are always focused on introducing the joy of cycling to more and more kids,” she said. “Our aim is to get kids in touch with nature, enjoying physical activity and learning skills that lead to them becoming contributing members of the community.”
More information about Trips for Kids Marin and its programs is available at tripsforkidsmarin.org.
View article and more photos on the Marin Independent Journal's website.