If you ask any high schooler what they want to do during the summer, odds are they won’t say “Go to school!” However, almost twenty San Antonio students were motivated enough to spend six weeks of their break at the STEM Early College HS in Harlandale ISD. The reason? An ACE summer camp where they were able to learn valuable life skills and go home with a new bicycle.
18 students participated in the Earn-A-Bike @ School summer program as part of the host of activities offered by the summer camp that concluded this past Tuesday. The calendar of Earn-A-Bike activities included weekly talks with professionals in a variety of fields and learning bicycle repair skills in a hands-on environment.
Among the invited speakers were Julius Hunter, wellness coach and personal trainer at the YMCA, who talked about nutrition and health and wellness. Angel Whitley came to speak with the students on behalf of SWell Cycle and explained how the bike share program works in the city, the job opportunities in the field and emphasized the importance of taking proper safety measures when cycling. Julianna Lopez, a representative of the banking firm BB&T, spoke about the concepts of social responsibility, specifically financial responsibilities.
At the end of each presentation, the participants spent time diagnosing and repairing several bicycles, putting into practice what Fernando Guajardo and Mike Beatty, from Crossroad Bikes, taught them.
To demonstrate all they had learned, the students then prepared presentations summarizing the weekly lessons and reinforcing the concepts to their peers. In their final session, the students received their brand new bicycles and built them themselves. They also received a helmet and learned the proper way to fit it, were presented with a certificate of completion and concluded the day by riding their new bicycles around the campus.
“At first they showed a lot of curiosity about the activities we were going to do, but the best moment was when they saw the boxes with their new bicycles. They were very excited,” explained JJ Chavez, 21st Century Onsite Coordinator, who was in charge of coordinating the entire camp. Chavez acknowledged that the biggest challenge was to motivate young people to want to spend time in a school during their summer break, but she says they enjoyed it a lot.
The truth is that there was a lot of learning, but also a great deal of recreational activities and entertainment.