This summer saw several successful youth programs here at the shop. The Junior Mechanic Program had its biggest year to date, with four teenage mechanics working part-time through the summer. They refurbished bikes for our Everybody Bikes program, assisted with Greenride Bike Share operations, and helped supervise the Youth Shop program. Each Junior Mechanic left not only with improved mechanical skills, but also with valuable experience in a professional workplace. By the end of the summer they demonstrated increased capacity taking responsibility for tasks, improved leadership and mentoring abilities, and enhanced communication skills. It was a great summer, and we hope the program can continue to grow in the future! We owe a big thank-you to our community partners (ReSource, Mansfield Hall, CEDO Americorps, and the Howard Center) for referring these stand-up young people to us.
This summer also saw the third iteration of the Youth Mechanic Program, a partnership with Spectrum Youth and Family Services. In this program, five high-schoolers learn basic bike repair skills, then spend a month performing free bike repairs for folks in low-income neighborhoods. The goal is twofold; to provide highschoolers with their first professional experience, and to complement our Everybody Bikes Program by offering free bike repair to low-income Vermonters. It’s not always easy for folks from these neighborhoods to bring their bikes into the shop, so this program brings the shop to them! After a two-week training period, our Youth Mechanics set off with the Mobile Repair Unit. Across four neighborhood visits, they performed over 30 repairs, nearly all of them on childrens’ bikes. The Youth Mechanics themselves were held to high standards of punctuality, communication, and professional behavior. Over the six weeks, we saw a lot of improvement in each area. When asked about the program, the high schoolers said their favorite part was the opportunity to give back to the community.
Lastly, we revived the Youth Shop program after a hectic winter. On Thursday afternoons, we open our doors to 12-18 year olds for a drop-in volunteer program. The two-hour program works like a trade; during the first hour, youth lend a hand around the shop, and in the second hour, our mechanics help them work on their own bikes. Many of these young people don’t have the means to pay for bike repair or maintenance, so the program ensures they can stay on a safe, operational bike. We even saw a handful of youth who didn’t need bike repair, but participated simply because they wanted to help out around the shop. Twenty-five youth partook in Youth Shop this summer. The program will continue through the winter.
Written by Tom Schoorlemmer, Programs Associate