Students build bikes in new program

(Gazette Photo by Alicia Perez) Strive participant Jordana Simpson works on a bike.

By Alicia Perez, Special to the Gazette

BPS students built bikes—one for themselves, one for donation—in a new partnership with Bikes Not Bombs, a Jamaica Plain nonprofit organization, and Roxbury’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School that launched this summer.

The program, called “Strive,” allows special needs students to use their hands and get training in the mechanical field. Emily Lebo, the director of Career and Technical Education for Boston Public Schools and the director of the new Strive program, said she hopes they can be employed in the mechanical field after they graduate high school.

Derreck Garcia, a student in the pilot program, which wrapped up this month, said he was excited to learn about Strive. Garcia said he was happy to be paid for the program, but he also enjoyed “fixing and renewing the bikes and taking a bike home [at the end].”

Jordana Simpson, another participant, said she joined to learn how to fix bikes. When asked her favorite part she said, “All of it!”

Bikes Not Bombs, located at 284 Amory St. in the Brewery complex, provides community-based education and assists development projects with recycled bicycles. It has a seasonal Earn-A-Bike program that consists of bikes rides; learning about bike mechanics and bike safety; and exploring environmental issues.

Strive is much like Earn-A-Bike, but it is “way more intensive,” Elijah Evans, the youth coordinator of Bikes Not Bombs, said during a Gazette visit to Strive this month at the Bikes Not Bombs headquarters. Strive ran five days a week and five hours a day for six weeks.

The participants were paid through the Boston Youth Fund. Of the two bikes they will be building, they took one bike home and donated the other to a local organization, such as New Hope Baptist Church in Roxbury.

Rayetta Perkins-Jones, a community connection facilitator for Boston Public Schools, told the Gazette in a phone interview that the bikes will go to the church youths, who are in need of and would appreciate the donated bikes.

Lebo said, during a Gazette phone interview, that she noticed students wanted to work more with their hands and practice mechanics, so she decided to address these interests.

After meeting and chatting with Evans, Lebo learned of Bikes Not Bombs and decided they give “great training, have a great facility, and they would be good place to have partnership with.”

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