Fernwood Montessori in Milwaukee has been a focus school for Safe Routes to School initiatives the past couple years. In an effort to offer some more youth engagement opportunities and keep kids thinking about biking and walking all year round I offered two Basic Bike Mechanics courses last week. We had about 20 kids total sign up for two sessions. To my surprise, which I should stop being surprised at this point, 80% of the youth who signed up were young women! We met after school and most of the kids brought their own bikes so they could be familiar with how to work on their own rides.
Once I saw the registration fill up with lots of girls I thought it might be a good opportunity to involve Amber Vavrusa, Marketing and Outreach coordinator for South Shore Cyclery. I wanted to involve a female to provide the girls with the opportunity to see that there are women working in the bike industry and their local bike shop as well. It was a great help to have Amber there to assist the kids in learning how to change flats and maintain their chains, etc. The bike key chains she brought to share with the kids were a big hit as well
Each participant took home a patch kit and tire levers courtesy of The Bike Fed, as well as some printed resources to help them should they forget a step next time along the way. The class went really well and there is already interest in another course offering.