At Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), the Bicycle Maintenance and Repair Shop teaches young people to use professional equipment and tools to keep their bikes safely on the road.

Jasmyn Baird is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Youth Opportunities Unlimited in New Bedford. We reached out to her to discuss the return of the program through the organization.

For many youths, a bicycle provides their primary means of transportation, and knowing how to repair it, whether it's fixing a flat tire or adjusting the brakes, gives them a sense of empowerment and independence. The program also teaches youth about science and engineering, giving them hands-on experience with simple machines and using the engineering design process to customize a bicycle into a "pedal-powered machine,” capable of doing other work such as generating electricity.

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“Just as important as the practical skills learned are the life skills that the ‘Bike Shop’ imparts," Baird said. “Building self-reliance, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills are as much a part of the program as building bicycles and simple machines. Cultivating empowerment and confidence are crucial to the mission of Y.O.U. and each of our experienced staff members acts as an instructor, mentor, and caring adult presence in the lives of the youth they serve.”

Bernadette Souza is the Executive Director at Youth Opportunities Unlimited. She knows the program is successful because past participants are still using the skills attained today.

"I continue to run into many kids who have participated in the past, who tell me how much they enjoyed the program and what they learned, came in handy," Souza said. "Our program allows the opportunity for a unique hands-on experience, while our direct instruction and mentorship model results in a deep and lasting impact on the many that we serve. It's amazing to know that this program came to be because kids wanted to learn how to fix their flats on their bikes. When the kids ask, we deliver!"

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