The Original Scraper Bike Team and Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation are proud to announce the launch of a new after-school program supporting health, mobility and creativity in East Oakland youth. Currently operating at Brookfield Elementary and Madison Park Academy, the free six-week program for fourth- to seventh-graders will expand to five schools by next year.
In the first session, kids learned about the 15-year history of the Original Scraper Bike Team and got fitted for bikes and helmets they will be able to borrow for the duration of the program. In future sessions they will learn bike maintenance and riding skills, enjoy bike rides through the community, and design their own Scraper bike.
To founder and Chief Visionary Officer Champ Stevenson, the program is is a natural progression of the work the Scraper Bike Team has been doing for years. “I’ve always wanted to do a Scraper Bike after-school program, but I didn’t know how to build a curriculum to meet California standards. The partnership with and Higher Ground really made this dream a reality.”
Khariyyah Shabazz, Higher Ground’s deputy executive director, thinks the program will fit in well with the many school-based youth development programs Higher Ground already provides. “This program gives us an opportunity to develop an extra educational resource we can provide to youth and families. Higher Ground is already embedded within health and wellness; we have have a health and fitness department, an environmental development department, a career development department. This program allows us to use all those departments at once, and add to our capacity to better serve youth.”
“It also allows us to provides access to bikes and bike education that Black and brown children wouldn’t normally have; to give them health options, transportation options, and potential for bike and transportation career options. It gives Higher Ground another notch on our belt.”
Getting this program up and running is the first major accomplishment for new Scraper Bike Team Executive Director Rion F. Manning. Only hired in February, Rion had to hit the ground running to be able to support the curriculum development and hire staff to deliver the program. “It’s been pretty exciting seeing the program come together. I’m thankful that we have such good people in these positions; there may have been a hurdle or two but we’ve worked together to get over them, even if it’s felt like our hair has been on fire.”
Rion feels that the school program will provide important visibility for all of the Scraper Bike Team’s work. “I see this program as being a great way to engage the community and the youth so they know what the Scraper Bike Team is doing. Right now people mostly know us by word of mouth. I see having a structured program like this as being very beneficial to the other things we’re doing with our other programs, like community rides, bike maintenance and mentorship at the Shed.”
At the kickoff meeting, enrichment provider Coach Shorty connected with long-time Scraper Bike Team member Reginald “RB” Burnette, who he used to coach at the Brookdale Recreation Center. RB’s bike career got started at Brookdale, where he learned to fix a flat at a Cycles of Change workshop.
“Learning to fix a flat encouraged me to ride a bike. Growing up in East Oakland, we didn’t even have a bike shop, but I learned, this is something I can do, I can fix my own bike, be able to get around, learn safety skills, life skills. Now I can teach that to these kids.”
The Brookfield site is for fourth- and fifth-graders; Madison Academy is for sixth and seventh. Both have space available; parents interested in enrolling their kids should contact Khariyyah at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rion at email@example.com.
The next phase of the “Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors” grant will involve building out a space for expanded bike repair and mentorship operations at the Shed, and the team will be building an advanced curriculum and providing work opportunities for kids who have come through the program.
Champ thinks this is just the beginning; the long-term goal is to franchise the program, brining it to multiple school districts, and eventually go national. “I’m so grateful to Rion and Khariyyah. They really helped make this vision a reality.”