Our rides provide hundreds of children each year with the opportunity to discover the natural world and the rewards of hard work on a vehicle that children love, the bicycle. Many children we serve have never visited natural areas outside their home cities, some have never even been across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our rides give them a unique outdoor opportunity to work and play as a team, to exert themselves physically, and to interact with a group of caring adult volunteers who offer valuable mentoring and promote cross-cultural understanding. By the end of the day, participants typically gain a sense of accomplishment and expand their self-esteem and environmental awareness, while gaining a broader perspective on their life.
Trips are open to community-based agencies, foster homes, and schools that serve disadvantaged youth from the San Francisco Bay Area. We lead up to six rides per week, serve over one thousand children each year, and have taken several thousand kids on trips from over 350 agencies since 1990.
Earn-a-Bike & Job Training Workshops
Our Earn-a-Bike and Job Training workshops provides youth in Marin County with a safe place to go after school. A place where they can belong to a community and interact with other kids. A place where they can receive ongoing support from caring adults, and take their first steps towards successful employment as adults. We run workshops from our own facility in San Rafael's Canal District, a primarily Hispanic neighborhood.
Completing hands-on lessons in bike mechanics and bike safety, kids that participate in the Earn-a-Bike Workshops earn credits towards a bike (or parts and accessories for a bike they already have) and a helmet. In addition, many youth go beyond the basic curriculum and learn advanced mechanics. Over the years, we have hired numerous participants as Earn-a-Bike instructors, while others have become mechanics and sales assistants at the Re-Cyclery.
Green Cyclers Program
The Green Cyclers program integrates environmental awareness into our Rides Program and our Earn-a-Bike Workshops. Lessons held on our rides and in the workshops teach kids that all living things are inter-connected and impact one another. During the rides, leaders conduct games and initiate discussions that raise awareness about environmental issues. And our ride leaders introduce youth to the abundant flora and fauna of Marin County's wild areas.
Meanwhile, our Earn-a-Bike participants work on recycled bikes, earn credit by participating in weekly environmental education activities, and go on outings that reinforce environmental lessons learned in the workshops. Through these various lessons, kids gain an appreciation for nature and learn what they can do in their everyday lives to make a difference.
Of course, we also lead by example. As an organization, we practice the principles of good environmental stewardship. Our office is equipped with used computers, phones and furniture. We recycle plastic, glass, paper and metal. We encourage water and energy conservation. And, of course, we promote the myriad environmental and social benefits of non-motorized transportation.
The Re-Cyclery, our bicycle thrift shop in San Rafael, gives a second life to used bicycling equipment and provides affordable transportation options to low-income people. Over the past decade, we have accepted millions of dollars worth of new and used bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories from individuals and manufacturers across the country. Without the Re-Cyclery, many of these items would have ended up in the dump rather than being put to use. In fact, so many people donate to us that we have become a distribution hub for bike equipment to other youth bike repair programs. Moreover, a large portion of the bikes that we sell are bought by low-income Bay Area residents. For these people, a high-quality, low-cost bicycle is critical for getting to work, shopping, and numerous other activities.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of the Re-Cyclery is that it provides crucial core funding to our other program, as sales from the Re-Cyclery cover over half of our operating costs.
Give a kid a bike and one day it will get a flat. Teach a kid how to fix a flat and they can ride farther. Teach a kid how to build a bike and they can ride forever.
– Lorene Jackson, former TFK staffer