Bearings Bike Shop offers a system of resources that work to empower youth in Atlanta to discover their ability to navigate a meaningful, productive life. In our spaces, kids have fun, share community, and work through challenges. This is space where perseverance and reward go hand in hand.
In the process of building bikes, they’re also building character and grit. We believe these young people are change makers. We believe they can repair broken chains – on bikes, as well as in their families and communities. This is a place where kids can prove to themselves that they can learn new skills and grow as leaders. They can experience the connection between hard work, optimism, and results. And they can feel the value of giving and receiving respect. This is where they build the bikes, the values, and the skills that will take them where they want to be.
How it Works
Starting Point is just that: the place kids start in their journey learning how to work and seeing the reward on the other side. It is the foundation for everything we do. For every hour that kids learn skills by working on shop bikes, they earn stars. These stars act as currency in the economy of the shop. As kids begin to find their bearings, they see their work paying off as their savings grow. When they earn enough stars, they can make a withdrawal from the star chart and buy a bike of their own. All bikes earned are donated from families across Atlanta whose kids have outgrown them or no longer have a need for them. We give them a new life, and kids who might never own a bike get to do so, experiencing the joy of owning a bike of their own.
skills for life
The Skills for Life Program is rooted in facilitating the learning of mechanics, hard skills, soft skills and character strengths. We have found in our work that soft skills and character are just as essential as education in a student's success, both in and after school. As kids’ skills grow and they work their way through the program, continuing to earn and spend stars. The Skills For Life Program has four levels. Each builds upon the previous and test kids on the skills they have learned. Kids can buy a bike at each level with their stars, and earn fun perks like Tshirts, new locks, and special privileges in the shop. The bikes provide the ideal environment for developing character strengths such as grit, responsibility and confidence, among others.
open work spaces
The shops also function as open work spaces for the community. Kids and adults are invited to use the shop space and tools to keep their bikes in working order. Supplies are either earned or purchased and everyone is encouraged to learn how to fix their own bikes.
advanced job training
As teens complete Level 4, they're eligible to apply to the Advanced Program. Our Advanced Program offers teens and young adults employment opportunities within the shop. This program is designed to elevate employability skills and to increase character strengths needed for successful long-term employment. We believe the antidote to poverty is employment. Education is more than just teaching people to recite memorized answers, but equipping soon-to-be adults with the skills critical to success in the workforce. During the summer program, teens work 20-25 hours each week, participating in a weekly financial literacy program, and visiting various workplaces throughout the city to see different careers and work environments.