You've heard the old saying "it's as easy as riding a bike." But it's hard to learn if you don't own one.
Chayna Thomas can't wait to get a free bike.
"I signed up for this class because I love riding bikes and I knew that if I took the opportunity to get a free bike that I would know new things," said Thomas.
The program providing Thomas with her free bike is called St. Louis Bicycle Works. Graduates of the six-week program earn a bike, helmet, light and lock. Patrick Van Der Tuin is the founder of BWorks.
"Usually, when the kids come in the first day, they're a little nervous," said Van Der Tuin. "But usually once they get into the class a couple of days, pretty quickly realize what a fun environment it is and how caring the volunteers are."
Bill Goetz is a volunteer instructor.
"Learn to ride is basically for little kids just learning how to ride a bike," said Goetz. "Earn a Bike is basically everybody else that knows how to ride a bike and they go through a six-week program it at the end of the six weeks they earn a bike."
Goetz says the emphasis is on cycling safety. Last April, an SUV hit and killed 7-year-old Demond Moorehead, who was riding his bike in St. Louis. To get a free bike, students must learn rules of the road and safe riding habits.
"We always see someone getting hit by a car on the news nowadays, so bicycle safety is a huge part of the class," said Goetz.
In 1996, Bicycle Works evolved into a computer training program called St. Louis Byte Works.
Students who complete the class about online safety and computer skills go home with a free desktop computer, many of them donated by local companies. BWorks also promotes literacy via St. Louis Book Works.
After teaching tens of thousands of kids riding safety, providing free bikes, free computers and now free books Van Der Tuin wants more of the same.
"You want to continue to expand and grow and work with more kids, but we also want to expand the amount of time we are working with those kids."
If you want to help, St. Louis BWorks is looking for volunteers as well as computer and bicycle donations. For more information, visit their website.
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