Yesterday 120 expectant and grateful girls built 120 bikes at Lockwood Park on the city’s Eastside. These “Chiquitas Ciclistas” didn’t build alone. Moms, big brothers, stepdads, bike enthusiasts, and caring adults in the community guided them. Edith Lopez Estrada, a fixture at Women’s Wrench Night, led the assembly. This event marked the beginning of a partnership between the Earn-A-Bike Co-op and the Martinez Street Women’s Center‘s Girl Zone program (see photo gallery above).
As the day progressed, rows of cardboard boxes were replaced by rows of shiny, mint-colored Electra bikes amidst a sea of bike tools, people and packaging.
“It was a lot of work and in the end it really paid off because I got to ride it,” said Gia, 9, when she finished building her bike.
The hardest part about building the bike according to Ellie, 11, was getting on the front tire because you have to lift up the bike frame in order to set it into place.
After assembling the bikes, the group enjoyed a lunch from Jason’s Deli and some play time at the park adjacent to the pavilion. Each girl then decorated her own helmet and learned about bike safety.
Why do you build a bike? In short, you build a bike so it can take you places. Twelve-year-old Keyshana, wants to take her bike to “Jack-in-the-Box, Dollar General, Walgreens, and to parks.” The community surrounding Keyshana and these other young women hopes that these bikes take them even further as they invest their talents and strengths back into their neighborhood, San Antonio, and the world.
Andrea Figueroa of the Martinez Street Women’s Center summarizes this dream with these words:
“In Girl Zone, we are focused on instilling a strong sense of self-worth in all the girls. We want them to know that they are powerful people who have a voice. They have valuable talents and strengths to share, and they can start now. They don’t have to wait until they are adults to make a difference. They can change their community for the better now.”