Nevis Earn-A-Bike is a grassroots youth bicycle program that provides mechanics training, leadership development and bicycles to young people throughout the island of Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean. Nevis Earn-A-Bike is modeled after BNB's Boston-based Earn-A-Bike Program in which young people learn to fix bikes, go on group rides, develop community together, gain leadership skills and Earn Bikes! through their active participation in the program.
Nevis is a relatively small island, with excellent social services, but not many jobs for young people. The economy is mostly focused around tourism, and while this tends to beautify the island and bring money into the economy, it does not sufficiently create opportunity for young people to develop skills and empowerment. Related to this lack of opportunity is a trend toward cross-community territorial conflict among young people. An alternative approach is needed to support young people to gain skills, become leaders and work together to build the future of Nevis.
Nevis Earn-A-Bike brings young people together from communities around the island to take part in 5-week Earn-A-Bike sessions to learn about bikes, to learn about each other and to build lasting connections and friendships. Young people learn bike mechanics, repair their bike throughout the course of the session, go on group rides together and at the end of the session, ride their bike home. Also, once a month, a large group ride is organized for all past and present Earn-A-Bike youth to take part, riding to culturally significant places around the island and back.
Young people who graduate from an Earn-A-Bike session are given the opportunity to continue participating as an instructor, to “teach back” to other young people who come through the program. These young people learn valuable skills – to fix bikes – empowering themselves with this new knowledge and their newly earned bikes. Learning together, and learning from each other, these young people build lasting friendships, break the cycles of territorial conflict and transform their communities.
Nevis Earn-A-Bike has a growing Instructor Training Program as well, in which youth and adults from around the island take part to be trained in bicycle mechanics and how to work with young people. They then apprentice with an experienced instructor to organize and lead Earn-A-Bike sessions. Leadership development and empowerment are central to the work of all BNB partners and are especially relevant in the context of youth work, creating a pathway for young people to grow through the program and continue contributing with increasing responsibility and ownership.
Bikes Not Bombs is partnering with the Nevis Department of Social Services (DSS) and a team of volunteer Earn-A-Bike instructors and program organizers who run the Nevis Earn-A-Bike. The DSS provides the administrative systems, guidance and support for the program, and the volunteer instructors and organizers run the programming. A committee composed of Earn-A-Bike youth alumni, volunteers and DSS staff forms the decision-making body of the Nevis Earn-A-Bike.
Above, this 12 minute video about Nevis Earn-A-Bike was made by David Branigan, International Programs Director at Bikes Not Bombs.