Girl Power: Earning Bikes by Building Them

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Attendees take their turn to repair a flat during the third Women's Wrench Night at Bike World. Photo by Scott Ball.

Attendees take their turn to repair a flat during the third Women's Wrench Night at Bike World. Photo by Scott Ball.

Summer is at the tip of the fingers, a time when school-aged children don’t have the regular exercise routine that the school week allots them.

In an effort to get girls outside to expend all of that energy that would normally be used during P.E., recess, and after-school activities, the Martinez Street Women’s Center has partnered with San Antonio Earn-A-Bike Co-op to put together a bike workshop for girls. The program will offer 134 girls aged 7-14 who live on San Antonio’s Eastside an opportunity to earn a bicycle by completing a four-hour bike workshop on May 9. The girls will assemble their bicycles with the help of a mentor, and then learn bicycle safety and etiquette.

“What we tend to hear from girls that come to the Earn-A-Bike Co-op during our Open Shop hours on Saturdays is that they need a space where they can feel comfortable working with bike tools and on their bikes without the boys acting silly,” said Cristian Sandoval, President of the Earn-A-Bike Co-op.

Earn-A-Bike Co-op is a volunteer driven establishment with a mission to create equitable access to cycling by offering bicycle maintenance and education. The co-op operates a bike repair shop and offers community classes.

Earn-A-Bike Co-op. Photo by Rachel Chaney.

Earn-A-Bike Co-op at 2619 Guadalupe St. Photo by Rachel Chaney.

Monica Sosa, Girl Zone educator for the Martinez Street Women's Center, said the Eastside lacks a bike culture, especially for girls, so the workshop aims to give girls the skills needed to cultivate that culture. Instead of sitting in front of computer, TV, and smartphone screens for hours on end during the summer months, girls can hop on their bikes and encourage friends to do the same.

The Martinez Street Women's Center provides women and girls health services, education, and advocacy. The center is split into two programs: a free health program and an academic program for girls called Girl Zone.

Sandoval said many kids don’t own bikes because their parents can’t afford to buy them one.

“It can be especially burdensome for parents to purchase a bicycle for every child in their family, and because of this, often times parents will only purchase one bicycle, which usually goes to the oldest child or the boy in the family,” he said.

Sandoval said his experience as founder of San Antonio's Earn-A-Bike has shown that bikes given away for free end up in a ditch, stolen, at a friend’s house, or against a fence in the backyard collecting rust. By having the girls build their own bike, he said, value is instilled in the workwomanship, and there’s a greater chance the recipients will treat their bike with more respect.

The Martinez Street Women’s Center and the San Antonio Earn-A-Bike Co-op partnered with the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the San Antonio Department of Sustainability in an effort to encourage girls to lead a healthy lifestyle. San Antonio Metro Health and an Eastside Promise Neighborhood grant funded the workshop.

The women’s center will continue to work with the Earn-A-Bike Co-op after the event to provide more bicycle maintenance classes at their center. Small donations can make a big difference, so if you have a used (unused) bike to donate, or would like to make a contribution to facilitate more bikes for more young deserving girls, please contact Sandoval at Earn-A-Bike.

The event is happening at Lockwood Park at 801 N. Olive Street. For more information on how to get involved please contact Monica Sosa at 956.561.8575 and RSVP on Facebook here.

 

*Featured/top image: Attendees take their turn to repair a flat during the third Women's Wrench Night at Bike World. Photo by Scott Ball.

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