Children who ride bicycles, work on bicycles and mentor young riders are less likely to get into trouble than their peers.
That’s the impetus behind a $1.1 million state grant that funds a Community Bike Works bicycle club in Easton’s West Ward. The grant administered by the Greater Easton Development Partnership will also cover a “safe routes to school” program around Paxinosa Elementary School and Easton Area Middle School.
“Bikes are an excellent way to connect with teens,” said Kim Schaffer, the executive director of Community Bike Works.
Her organization runs a bike club program for Easton Area High School ninth-graders who live in the West Ward. If they complete the 40-hour, monthlong mentoring program they earn their own bicycle. At least 40% of participants later become mentors to youngsters, Community Bike Works said in a news release.
Students in the club will be hired as paid apprentices in youth programs. There’s also a summer program. Schaffer expects to help 100 Easton teens over the next two years through the grant.
According to the release, 94% of participants who complete the bike club program say they make better decisions, and 87% say they can take care of problems without fighting or violence.
The Bike Works got a $1.4 million federal grant in 2021 to fix up its youth center at 921 Spruce St.
The grant will fund supervision for walkers headed to school at Paxinosa Elementary School at 1221 Northampton St. in Easton and the Easton Area Middle School at 1010 Echo Trail in Forks Township. The Easton Ambassadors will monitor the walking routes in the city.
“Research shows that walking to school can be great for kids’ physical and emotional health,” said Paxinosa Principal Elise Jones. “I am looking forward to the collaborative partnership that this grant will foster for our community.”
Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said to stay tuned for more funding for pedestrian safety on the South Side and West Ward. He said major pedestrian improvements are headed to the Cattell Street corridor on College Hill.
“We are excited that grants are being received for our neighborhoods,” Panto said.
The $1.1 million grant is part of $88.6 million in Violence Intervention and Prevention grants announced on Jan. 11 by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to 122 projects throughout the state.
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Rudy Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.