Last Friday afternoon, Nov. 12, Hazard’s Cyclesport was teeming with hardworking Santa Barbara Middle School teenagers assembling new bikes for lucky recipients at the Eastside Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara.
When science teacher Jesse Kasehagen got the last-minute call from Bruce Davis, owner of Hazard’s Cyclesport, to rally his team of bike mechanics — known as the “Bike Monkeys” — to help assemble bikes for the Eastside Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, his response was, “Of course!”
Kasehagen extended the offer to the school’s Mountain Bike Club with the idea that “many hands make light work,” and on Friday afternoon, 30 middle school teens were aligning head sets, attaching brakes and pumping up bike tires. The students also prepped 100 helmets that were given away with each bike, and organized the tool sets that other volunteer team members would use Saturday to assemble even more bikes.
“Seizing authentic learning opportunities is one of our strengths,” Head of School Brian McWilliams said. “This is the real work of education. We like to see beyond the four walls of the classroom and capture these real opportunities to learn and be of service to others. It is one of the things that make us different; it is one of the things that middle school does best.”
Davis explained that the bikes donated to the Eastside Boys & Girls Club came from a large company that was in town for a corporate retreat and that wishes to remain anonymous.
“The company was here in Santa Barbara on an employee retreat and was looking for a meaningful alternative to the traditional team-building exercises that often take place,” he said. “That’s when the idea to donate and build bikes for children who would not otherwise have a bike came to them.”
The team of company executives were introduced to the Eastside Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara’s mission and felt that the community service project fit their team-building objective for the retreat.
To become eligible for the new bikes, the youngsters at the club were invited to submit a letter or create an art project that highlighted the values of the bicycle. The children who participated were then asked to come to the club last Saturday, with the understanding that they were there to help clean up after some earlier club festivities, and then head out on a “surprise” field trip. Little did they know that waiting for each participant inside the big tent that had been erected in the back of the club were 100 new bikes.
The unveiling of the bikes brought a lot of smiles and excitement to the nearly 100 kids in attendance. Some of them had never owned a bike. They were fitted with helmets, given a talk about bicycle safety and sent out on an inaugural ride around a course laid out on their playground.
As the children headed for home with their new bikes, one of them said, “Our club will need to have new bikes racks available so that we can now ride our bikes to the club.”
The community event was the perfect combination of true community service, resulting in surprising joy for many Santa Barbara youths.
— Sue Carmody is the community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara Middle School.