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BIKE WORKS JOURNEY 16 BikeLife Seattle An adventure for kids of all ages Ever since he was young Emmett liked riding his bike and seeing where it would lead him. But at that point in his young life video games were the top priority. With a little parental prodding Emmett went to that first class with his sister and then on to the intermediate repair class. When he wanted to sign up for the advanced repair class his mother was actually concerned about whether he was ready for the challengeand the home- work. But by then Emmett was hooked. Fast-forward five years and 15-year- old Emmett has nothing but positive things to say about Southeast Seattles Bike Works the organization behind the courses. I liked the classes because fixing bikes is really a puzzle its about prob- lem-solving . . . but you have to really study for the tests at the end he said with a smile. Over the past two decades Bike Works has become an institution in Seattles Co- lumbia City neighborhood and surround- ing communities. Founded by a group of grassroots activists in 1996 the organi- zation is committed to increasing access to alternative transportation investing in youth pushing for environmental justice and fostering more sustainable commu- nities. It has grown to serve more than 2000 adults and youth annually. One of Bike Works priority initiatives is the Bicycle Recycle Reuse program. Through its collection of thousands of used bikes it decreases the annual waste stream by more than 170000 pounds. Meanwhile youth and adults in their classes and community service programs refurbish the bikes and return them to the roads as affordable environmentally friendly transportation or sources of fun healthy recreational activity. But Bike Works true heart lies in its programs for young people. Many start where Emmett did signing up for the beginning Earn-A-Bike repair class. This eight-week after-school pro- gram teaches basic hands-on mechanic skills. Participants practice on bikes that will be donated back to the community. By logging community service hours the kids earn the opportunity to pick out and fix up a bike to take home. Emmett remembers his touring trip a few years ago in the San Juans as both peaceful and beautiful but the moment that stands out for him was toward the end of a day when he was faced with yet another grueling hill. I wasnt sure if I could psyche myself up one more time to climb this big hill he recalls. Until one of his teammates Ellie rode up next to him and called out Emmett youve got this It was that precise moment when he began to hear the little voice in his own head whispering what has since become his mantra when confronted with a chal- lenge Just push through it. Emmett however has gone far beyond just pushing through it. Bike Works is now his second home. As the pres- ident of Bike Works Youth Advisory Committee YAC and a member of the Board of Directors he is an organiza- tional leader as well as a mentor for the younger cyclists. His passion is letting other kids know about what Bike Works has to offer and when he is met with a No thanks. Not interested he smiles to himself . . . and then tells them a little more. Learn more about Bike Works at THE Guest Author Deb Salls Bike Works Executive Director No thanks. Not interested. That was 10-year-old Emmetts response when his older sister tried to get him to sign up for a beginning bicycle repair class she had heard about.