This September the Seattle-based nonprofit 88bikes will present 50 bikes to kids of the Navajo Nation, and will build a sustainable bike shop that will include tools and supplies.
Next month, 50 young people attending the Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek will be given their bikes at the “Moment of Happy,” the climactic event of each endowment when the children receive their new bike plus a photograph of their bike’s sponsor.
To receive the bikes the kids will have completed a two-day bike repair workshop.
Additionally, as part of the endowment, these underserved youth will have the opportunity to take a guided bike tour through the southwest desert, and there is a bike rack design competition in the works. “Obviously we hope that the bikes will provide a connection with friends, and a way to get around,” Dan Austin, co-founder of 88bikes told BikeRadar. “We hope the bikes bring the community together.”
This region was selected said Austin, because it is very isolated and there is no public transportation. Most people have to drive or walk great distances, and for children the bikes offer an alternative means to get around.
“They can get to school, visit their friends and they can get around,” said Austin, who added that the bikes should also help tackle rising health issues. “The bikes will help the kids be healthy. Diabetes and obesity are on the rise, so riding is a good way for the kids to stay in shape.”
The area’s dirt roads also present challenges, but Austin said that this just meant looking for the right bikes. “It is a challenging environment with lot of dirt roads, but it is not as extreme as other areas. And, riding a dirt road isn’t too hard, as long as long as the kids have a good bike.”
To that end 88bikes is happy to obtain World Bikes from Kona, which the group found to be useful in rural areas. The bikes aren’t too extravagant, but they are easy to use and maintain — the bikes feature three speed internal geared hub and coaster brake, supplemented with a front rim brake.
88bikes also plans to work with the kids to teach the basics in repair as well. “Each of the kids will have to pass a general bike maintenance class to earn their bike,” said Austin, adding that some assembly will be required, and the kids will do their part. “They’ll even work with the mechanics and help put their bikes together.”
The Navajo Nation endowment is 88bikes’ fifth and biggest project to date with additional endowments in Mongolia, Mozambique, South Africa and Nicaragua. To date, more than 1,000 new bikes have been distributed to local children through donations of $88 per bike to the VILLAGES project.