Charity Spotlight: Kids Repair Program

Boosting childhood self-esteem through bike ownership, safety, and maintenance.

Kids Repair Program teaches children how to properly own, operate, and maintain a bicycle. Supportive experiences and education empower children while helping them develop healthy habits and a positive attitude that can last a lifetime.

In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Director of Kids Repair Program, Jeanne Pearl-Wright.

Origin Story

Curt Eure—known by many as “Grandad”—was already interested in neighborhood and youth development when he first started teaching kids about bike ownership, safety, and repair in 1995. He saw bike education as an opportunity to cultivate responsibility in children while alleviating bike theft and neglect.

Grandad started the program by investing his time and money, looking for bike donations, and teaching kids how to repair their own bikes. The kids Grandad helped told their friends and it didn’t take long before the program built a lot of momentum.

Support poured in from the Lansing Police Department, City Council, the Mayor’s office, and many local bike shops. Before outgrowing the space, they even operated at Impression 5 for a time.

Today, the Kids Repair Program has a shop near Hill Career Center in south Lansing and serves the entire Tri-County Area.

Today

At the heart of Kids Repair Program is their summer bike camps. During these week-long camps, an instructor teaches kids how a bike works, how to repair their own bike using tools they already have, and how to be safe on the road.

The camp utilizes video, Matchbox car simulations, hands-on practice, and parking lot drills to help kids get as much out of the program as possible. Instructors also cover the history of bicycles, nutrition, biking for exercise, and even how to ride a bike.

At the end of the week, a police officer accompanies the kids on a bike trip to Hawk Island and the kids are given a bicycle, helmet, and lock. The program is open to any kid, including those with disabilities, in Clinton, Eaton, or Ingham county. KRP is also a Community Mental Health training site.

Every Wednesday, the repair program also hosts an Open Work Shop Night where adults can bring their bikes and learn how to make repairs. Kids Repair Program is always accepting bike and part donations.

Big Wins

Jeanne has seen—and helped—the whole program become reinvigorated since she first helped answer phones in 2012. In addition to Jeanne’s help, Kids Repair Program has also benefitted from an AmeriCorps VISTA and received more donations from local police departments.

All of this support has revitalized the organization and led to a stronger bike camp program, which in turn encourages more children to pursue their dreams while providing them the right tools do so.

Goals

One new grant could be all it takes to add another part-time manager to the repair program’s staff. The extra help would allow KRP to prepare many more bikes for their camps. The manager could also fill in when they are short on volunteers and help keep up with donations and bike parts.

Of course, more volunteers are always welcome, too.

For Nonprofits

Your nonprofit will rely on others for support and your budget will demand it, so it will be extremely beneficial for you to get comfortable working with the public! Don’t be afraid to reach out to the community—in any medium—to seek help.

When you do reach out for help, whether you’re looking for volunteers or donations, Jeanne recommends keeping your message simple. Make it clear and make it encouraging. Go ahead and take “can’t” out of your dictionary, too.

For Volunteers

Organizations that rely on volunteers usually have a to-do list that’s a mile long. If you’ve found someplace that you want to help, don’t worry that they might not need your help, because they definitely do.

If you are a leader in a nonprofit, Jeanne also has recommendations to make it easy to support your volunteers: write your to-do list down and let volunteers pick from it. It’s a great way to empower your volunteers and it shows that you really do have a need their help!

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about Kids Repair Program, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.

Photographs courtesy of Kids Repair Program.