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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Charlie's FreeWheels

CANADA - Charlie’s FreeWheels is a bicycle mechanic training program in Toronto which helps youth from Regent Park. The free program mentors and teaches young would-be bicycle mechanics, using donated bicycles from the community.

The program only teaches the basics, but its a solid start for people wanting to learn the essentials of bike repair and maintenance.

The program has being going on for several years now and its turned around the lives of the students involved. They've even launched a new bike shop at 242.5 Queen St East to house all the bicycles they're repairing.

The new Charlie’s Bike Shop will provide repair service, parts, accessories and sales of refurbished bikes to the public. All proceeds will be funneled back into youth programs.

The program's name refers to the late Charles Prinsep, who was struck and killed while on a cross-country bike trip in 2007. He conceived of the idea and following his death, some of Prinsep’s friends wanted to do something in his honour and felt his idea of a bicycle mechanic mentoring program was definitely something he would have wanted to see happen.

Youths involved also receive a free bicycle (which they first fix), a lock and a helmet. Each youth also takes part in CAN-BIKE safety certification.

Since its launch two years ago, 30 youth have gone through Charlie’s Freewheels.

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Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see charlesmoffat.com.

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