With our Bike Club in full swing, I thought those new to TWV might be wondering about how our Bike Club program works. Though each program is as unique as the youth in those clubs, each of our 19 Bike Clubs this year have a lot of commonalities. Let me ‘brake’ down the mechanics of Bike Club. (LOVE those bike puns!)
Our opening circle is a place to check in with participants, learn more about them, hold discussions about the week’s themes and review the lesson’s learned from the previous week. Each week of Bike Club has two themes: a Bike Mechanics theme and a social-emotional learning theme. Many people are surprised to learn that our clubs are more than just greasy hands and fixing flat tires. We take this opportunity to connect with our participants about empathy, what it means to be a good community, leadership and responsibility. Opening circles often ask participants to rate their day on a scale from one to ten and ask other questions like ‘what kind of music do you like?’ so that participants can build a community in their Bike Club, make new friends and realize that we really do have more similarities than differences.
Games and Snacks
This part of Bike Club is a chance to get into the right frame of mind for learning and teamwork. Our Bike Club snacks are powered by Clif Bar this year and we include a piece of fruit and a juice box with it. Modelling healthy eating is a part of setting the students up for success. To burn off that extra energy and to give our participants a chance to change gears (see… another bike pun… they are so easy!) from their school day, we play games. These games are usually focussed on one of our social-emotional learning themes or are another way we can get to know each other.
Now that we are ready, its on to the bike mechanics! Our facilitators will demonstrate the day’s lesson in a variety of ways and ask participants to be a part of the demo. I know I always learn a lot during this part of Bike Club! Each week we look at a different part of the bike from tires, brakes, chains, gears etc. Our program uses the SAFE model for strong youth programming by making sure our lessons are Sequenced, Active, Focussed and Explicit. We try to keep this part of the program short so that our Bike Clubbers have as much time as possible to get their hands on bikes!
Now for everyone’s favourite part – the hands-on learning component! One of the biggest strengths of our Bike Club program is that participants get a lot of time to discover bike mechanics for themselves. They are troubleshooting problems, communicating with one another and learning all kinds of valuable life skills including which tool is best for which job. When I ask the participants what they liked most about Bike Club, they always the people they’ve gotten to meet in Bike Club but a close second is the bike mechanics part.
In our closing circle, we recap the lessons learned and talk more about our social-emotional learning topic of the day. We let the participants in on what to expect for next week. Sometimes we have an ‘appreciation or compliment’ circle where everyone has to give their appreciation to someone or compliment the person on their left. At the final closing circle, after 8-10 weeks of program, the participants are asked about their favourite part of Bike Club. This one is always a bitter sweet circle.
After 8-10 weeks of Bike Club, our participants graduate and receive their bike, lock and helmet. More than 200 youth graduate this program every year. This is an important celebration to recognize the achievements of our Bike Clubbers and we try to make it extra special. I won’t go into it too much here as we have our first round of Bike Club Graduations coming up so watch for a blog about that!
Any questions about our Bike Club programs and how you can support our work? Email me.