I know how to ride a bike and I own one — yay me, big deal. A 2013 survey found that over 90% of Americans have this skill. However, my bike riding ability made an early contribution to my life — it allowed me to get a job and a good one.
When I was fifteen, I was offered a part-time job working in an office. The pay was better than minimum wage and the environment and hours were certainly better than other teen-centric jobs.
Because I knew how to ride, and more importantly I owned a bike, I was able to get to my new great job. It was over ten miles from my home. My bike gave me freedom, independence, and taught me responsibility.
My story is not unique. Many adults remember biking to work in their teens and some bike to work today. But what if I had never learned to ride a bike as a young child or my family was unable to buy me one? I would have turned down that great job. I would have also turned down a not-so-great job that I also couldn’t get to reliably.
Let’s Help Kids gives away bikes, new ones with helmets too. Riding a bike is fun and great exercise. But it can also be more. It can be a step toward independence for a child who grows up in a family without a lot of financial resources. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports, “Low- and moderate-income households spend 42% of their total annual income on transportation, while middle-income households spend less than 22%.” Transportation issues contribute to unemployment.
The bikes Let’s Help Kids give away provide happiness, fun, exercise, and a positive childhood experience to kids too young to work. We’re not advocating child employment. We’re advocating fun! But children do grow up and we can hope their opportunities are not limited too.