Chain Reaction Update
The following is a letter from Sarah Braunstein, Youth Development Specialist & Grant Writer at Bikes Not Bombs. Sarah organizes the Chain Reaction program, an initiative of B.O.C.A., a Bikes Not Bombs Youth Program. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-6pm, Chain Reaction opens for business at Boys and Girls Clubs around Boston offering low-cost bicycle repairs while you wait, free "Learn it, Earn it" repairs, as-is bicycles for sale, and youth-led mechanics lessons. Chain Reaction is made possible by United Way's Youth Venture Program in partnership with Roll It Forward, Boston. For more information call Sarah at Bikes Not Bombs at 617-522-0222 x104, email firstname.lastname@example.org
April 5, 2012
Hi Team Chain Reaction,
It's hard to believe that our time at Yawkey is already over. Despite some challenges and growing pains it was an amazingly positive experience. We sold three bikes, fixed close to 30, and found some really engaged and enthusiastic youth. We provided low cost services to club staff, parents, youth, neighbors and friends, and helped three youth get bikes from Roll It Forward. We were literally fixing bikes up until the very last second, with a couple projects that aren't yet complete spilling over into the work we have in store at Orchard Gardens. Lucky for us a few of the youth we met at Yawkey plan to follow us there to help.
I have a million little stories that I could tell to convey just how awesome this program has been. But if I try and think of one, it always comes back to Dennis. Dennis is almost 12 and is an enthusiastic, energetic and challenging youth. Traditional learning environments have been hard for him, which is maybe why no one knew that he was already a pretty skilled bike mechanic. But when he came in with a bare BMX frame, asking us to help him build it up from other parts he had, even we were skeptical. This bike had no brakes, a bent headset and about a million other problems.
Over the course of three days we worked with Dennis to overhaul his bike. He did all the work - and now his bike has awesome pegs, a back brake and a headset that works (see photo). I can't remember the last time I saw a kid THAT happy. He just couldn't believe that we brought his bike back to life. There's no way he would have been able to afford all the repairs, had he gone to a more traditional shop, and this isn't where the story ends. Some of the parts that Dennis used to build up his bike were from two other partially broken BMX bikes he had. After a few hours of working we noticed that another club youth, named Zack, was hanging around, and eventually it became clear to Dennis that Zack didn't have a bike. So Dennis offered to use the rest of the parts from those two BMX bikes to build one up for Zack. And then, when Zack told Dennis he'd pay for the bike, Dennis told him to use the money to buy a helmet and a lock instead. So, we started with two bike-less youth, three broken bikes, and no helmets or locks, and ended with two youth with everything they need to be safe cyclists.
The youth staff of Chain Reaction are so excited that they've been able to achieve so many of the goals they outlined at the start of this project. And hopefully this is just the beginning.
Thank you so much to everyone at Yawkey for making our month there so successful. We look forward to another productive and fun month of work at Orchard Gardens.
All the best,