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Week of 5.18.07

What's it Like to Earn-a-Bike?

Earn-a-Bike kids with bike frame Three children from the Earn-a-Bike program, a Houston-based initiative, tell NOW about their experiences working on bicycles for themselves and others in need of two wheels. The program teaches kids how to fix up bikes and aims to empower inner-city youth in the city's poorest areas. The kids volunteer to fix up a bike and eventually ride off with one of their own.

Eric and Jalen, both 11, and Anthony, 9, talk about the experiences with Earn-a-Bike.

NOW: How does it feel to have built your own bike?

Eric: It was fun, because now I can get to school and go places. If the tires are flat I can come here and fix it, and then just keep going. I used to walk to school and everywhere. I tell my friends that they need to come here if their bike is messed up.

Jalen: I liked building my own bike. I liked stripping a bike best.

Anthony: I was feeling happy when I got my bike. I like it much better than the one I got from my cousin.

NOW: How about building a bike for someone else and giving it to charity?

Earn-a-Bike kids Eric: I liked that, too. People who get those bikes probably think about who fixed them up. I hope that whoever gets mine thinks that I did a good job.

Jalen: I liked the charity bike, but building my own bike was better because when you finish you can ride it home!

Anthony: I felt good about making a charity bike. It probably went to somebody's house.

NOW: What do you like about coming to the program?

Eric: I like to help people fix things, or to fix my own things. I fix flat tires, brakes, handlebars, chains, wheels, anything.

Jalen: I just like to help out. I have been coming for about two years now. I just told my friend about it, because he didn't even know. The work was a little tough, especially when I couldn't take it home one day when I was almost done. Taking the rim apart was easy, but I had trouble patching a tire. When I had to take a bike apart, some parts were too rusty and I needed to get help from Miss Katy. I had to make the brakes good for the charity bike, the handlebars were loose and so was the wheel.

Anthony: I like to fix my bike, make movies and t-shirts and stuff like [In Workshop Houston's other programs, Super Fridays and Style Shop!] Fixing bikes is my favorite part.

NOW: What have you learned while fixing up bicycles?

Earn-a-Bike kids Eric: I learned how to fix bikes, fix tires, seats, spokes, everything. I also learned that I don't like to get messy.

Jalen: I haven't learned that much. Mostly I just teach myself, like I did when the wheel was rubbing. Sometimes, people help me out, if I need it.

Anthony: Nothing. I already knew how to fix bikes from the old bike shop, before you all moved [Workshop Houston relocated in January]. I learned to earn stuff.

NOW: Tell us about your bike

Eric: I made my tire stop rubbing. I like the brakes because they stop really fast and I can do a hook slide. It's black and red and I like that, too.

Jalen: It's silver, and it's fast: that's all I know.

Anthony: It rides good. It goes faster than a car. And it looks better than your car. And it goes faster than you.