FreeWheels for Kids, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that gives away repaired bikes and helmets, will be collecting donated bikes during the Tour of Lawrence’s Sunday’s criterium.

Members will be set up outside of Sunflower Bike and Outdoor, 804 Massachusetts St.

Free Wheels for Kids teaches youth to repair bicycles and ride safely, in order to increase exercise and fight obesity, provide mobility and empower participants, and provide leadership opportunities and experience to at-risk youth. Through their Earn-a-Bike classes, youth in low-income neighborhoods repair bikes for younger children and earn a refurbished bike, helmet and tools. After completing the repair course and safety training, graduates are encouraged to participate in regular group rides around the city and to form ride clubs in their neighborhood. One dedicated FreeWheels graduate said it best.

When asked why he wanted to earn a bike, he responded: “I really like riding a bike. The one I had broke and I [don’t want to] spend my time inside with nothing to do.”

Participants have enthusiastically gone on rides up to 25 miles (with a cold!), sometimes in snow, in neighborhoods they don’t know, after falling off their bikes and all with a smile because the next best option is video games or the graffiti-covered park in their neighborhood.

More than one FreeWheels participant has told staff that he or she would barely leave the house were it not for FreeWheels events! We are always working to provide new opportunities for graduates to be involved.

In 2012 FreeWheels has given over 1,460 bike to kids in need and ridden hundreds if not thousands of miles together.