Revolutions Bicycle Co-op’s Bicycle Ambassadors program is empowering Memphis kids to ride bikes to school.
This program was started as an after school program designed to encourage kids to learn how to ride and take care of their own bikes, but Executive Director Sylvia Crum says the program has evolved into much more.
Crum said she got the idea to start the Ambassadors Program after she noticed many of the children who received donated bikes from Revolutions would eventually stop riding.
“The problem we were hearing was as soon as they got a flat tire they completely stopped riding,” Crum said. “We hadn’t been able to form a deep enough relationship with them to let them know that they could come to Revolutions to fix a flat tire.”
The program started this past semester at Peabody Elementary school with 13 children. Revolutions donated all the equipment they needed, including bikes, locks and helmets. The hope was that this time around, a deeper relationship would be formed with the kids.
“Our goal was to show the children in the program how to use their bicycle for transportation to school and for those children to become ambassadors for using their bikes,” Crum said.
During the meetings the kids would learn street riding skills, such as the safest routes to take and how to share the road. They also learned how to use tools to fix their bikes themselves.
By the end of the program, the children were riding their bikes to school and showing off their new skills to friends and family.
After the initial success of the program, Crum said she’s looking to expand the program to other schools and age groups. She said many high school students in the neighborhood around Revolutions walk somewhat far to school, and teaching them to become ambassadors would give them a new method of transportation so they aren’t tardy and have access to after-school jobs.
In addition to the Bicycle Ambassadors program, Revolutions holds other instructional classes and summer camps for people of all ages who want to learn how to maintain their own bikes. The Co-op is also hosting a Bike to Dinner program this summer, where they will lead participants to a selected restaurant to enjoy a meal. The group will be joined by an owner or manager from each restaurant, and proceeds from Bike to Dinner will go towards the Bicycle Ambassadors Program.