Submitted by MaggieMelin on Thu, 06/05/2014 – 10:04am
The TAG Foundation, a non-profit committed to the health and wellness of local residents, had a mission – distribute 500 bicycles to youth in Bronzeville.
So on a recent Saturday, the foundation’s goal was accomplished with the help of Working Bikes (which supplied the bikes), local Bronzeville biking organizations, social agencies, schools, faith-based institutions and Active Trans.
For the bike distribution event, dubbed the Bronzeville Bike Builder, children ages 13 and under lined up outside of Wendell Philips High School starting at 7:30 a.m., waiting for their opportunity to pick out a bike.
“These bikes are not only for the smartest or the poorest or the most politically connected children of the community,” said Angela Ford, TAG Foundation executive director. “They are for the most passionate children interested in riding a bicycle.”
At 9 a.m., when the doors opened, children and parents received a Chicago Bicycle Map and a bike safety guide and then participated in a bike safety class. Wendell Philips Academy High School students explained the rules of the road and taught children how to use hand-signals while riding and how to conduct an ABC (air-break-chain) quick check.
After the training, Children entered rooms filled with hundreds of refurbished bikes of all colors and styles. Children shopped for the bike that called out their name.
Working Bikes staff and other volunteers helped adjust seats and handlebars and passed out helmets and U-locks. Before children could take their new bikes home, the final step was completing a cycling course in the high school parking lot led by the Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors.
“It was one of the best events I’ve had the fortune to be a part of,” said Charlie Short, CDOT’s Bike Safety and Education Manager. “Angela did a great job not only in putting the event together, but getting people that supported the mission. I worked with 7 young people who volunteered their Saturday to help kids not only ride better, but in some cases, ride for the first time.”
By the afternoon, 500 children in Bronzeville had earned their own bicycle.
The TAG Foundation’s goal is to distribute 500 children’s bikes in different Chicago neighborhoods, at least once a year. If you have an old child’s bike sitting in storage that you would like to pass along for the next generation of bicyclists, visit http://www.tagbikebuilder.com/
“I’m glad to see the city move towards encouraging more bicycling,” said Ford. “I am still friends with most of the children from my youth. As we all turn 50 this year, we still laugh at all of the adventures we had with our bikes. Those bonds and memories will last to the end of our days! I wanted to help a new generation create the same lasting memories. It is my firm belief, one is never unhappy on a bicycle.”