The mission of Bearings Bike Shop extends far beyond teaching kids to earn and maintain a bicycle. We work with young people to help them leverage their inner strengths, build self-confidence, gain valuable employability skills, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve their individual goals. Bearings empowers youth as they develop into successful leaders with purpose, character, and confidence.
Although the prospect of earning a bike is what draws kids to the program, the excitement of learning new skills and being a part of a community keeps them returning, week after week. We exist to engage kids in meaningful, hands-on youth development activities.
How it Works
Skills for Life
After the successful community clean-up nearly a decade ago, Tim turned his attention to developing the Skills for Life program, incorporating best practices from other youth empowerment initiatives. Opportunities exist, even in challenging communities. However, unless one has the skills to take advantage of them, they will pass them by. Skills for Life was designed to help students develop the skills and character strengths that will help them transition to adulthood. It features a point system that awards stars to kids as they work toward specific milestones. It focuses on three key areas:
1. Hard skills including bike assembly, tire repair, brake adjustments, and tune-ups.
2. Soft skills such as critical thinking and communication, which can make the difference in getting and keeping a job.
3. Character strengths such as perseverance and responsibility, that help youth do well in high school, college, and their careers.
Character is not innate. Nor is it learned in a day or from a lecture. Character strengths and soft skills are learned through authentic experiences with the guidance of caring, trusted adult. Bearings facilitates these experiences.
In addition, Bearings motivates kids to be active and physically fit by promoting cycling as a recreational pursuit and as an inexpensive means of transportation. The bike shop serves as a vibrant community hub where kids can hang out with positive role models, while helping to eliminate idle time, which can sometimes lead to destructive behavior.
ADVANCED JOB TRAINING
Older teens have the opportunity to apply to the Advanced Job Training program, working as part-time interns fixing bikes, stocking the shop, and coaching kids during shop hours. In addition to obtaining meaningful professional development and on-the-job training, they attend financial literacy workshops and visit various workplaces to gain career insights and to envision new possibilities for their own futures.
Last year alone, 350 students across Atlanta’s Westside participated in our unique youth development initiatives.