Summit High School bike tech program helps send bikes to Honduras to make a global impact
Bikes hold an immense amount of power. Athletes use them to make money, others use them for leisurely excursions as entertainment and some use them to get their heart rate up, but in impoverished countries bikes do so much more. They provide individuals with a mode of transportation and an avenue to escape their circumstances.
This semester the Summit High School bike tech program partnered with a local organization, Summit in Honduras, to refurbish used or lightly used bikes to ship to Honduras for those in need.
The bike tech program has existed for the last four years, but this is the first year where Tom Lutke’s students had a chance to get involved with a service project of this magnitude.
Rob Phipps with Summit in Honduras originally came to Lutke with the idea of replicating the bike tech program in the Honduran city of Santa Barbara.
Phipps then contacted a local sports store, Wilderness Sports, which recently closed its doors, to get used bikes for the Summit bike tech classes to fix up.
“The project was a really cool way to give back to the community and provide real world application for the students,” Lutke said.
Lutke said some of the bikes that were repaired were rough. His students worked for hours in order to get them back in working condition, he said.
The class even had a crash course in grant writing. Upon applying, Summit High School and the bike tech class received the Freeport McMoRan Grant, which went toward purchasing parts needed to properly fix the bikes.
In addition to the bikes from Wilderness Sports, the Summit bike tech program also received bikes from the Dillon Valley East bike junkyard, where many bikes have been dumped over the years but still have fine frames.
During this past semester, the Summit bike tech program refurbished a total of 24 bikes, and all but three of those bikes will be flown to Honduras with help from the U.S. Air Force via the Denton Program.
“In Santa Barbara, we work with a tech school, an orphanage and a clinic so those three entities are going to help us identify need, and we will distribute the bikes once we get them down there,” Phipps said.
Phipps is thankful the Air Force offers the Denton Program and that a small nonprofit in Summit County can apply for it.
“Part of our goal here is — yes (the bikes) are going to Honduras — but its about identifying need in the county first,” Phipps said. “There are three bikes that we diverted to locals that said they need a bike. Our goal is to have this database of what we have, photos of the bikes and figure out the local need first and then Honduras.”
The bikes that will be shipped to Santa Barbara will provide a great need to the community since bikes have grown in popularity in the region in recent years. The bikes will also provide a reliable form of transportation for the locals.
“Bikes are powerful. They provide transportation and the ability to cover distances you wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Phipps said. “Mobility is really what we are tying to provide.”
Summit in Honduras also helps out with the Manos Amigas Clinic’s Health Guardian program. The Health Guardian program consists of 38 medically trained men and women from 19 remote mountain villages who act similarly to first responders in the U.S.
With the donation of the Summit High School repaired bikes, those working with the Health Guardian program can respond faster to emergencies in many remote Honduran villages via bicycle.
The Summit High School bike tech program feels fulfilled by the service project as the students feel like they are giving back while learning viable skills.
“We learned how to clean the bikes, take out the handlebars, bleed brakes and learned all the basic skills to work in a bike shop,” junior Makena Fox said. “It feels great. We had the grant money, we have the parts so all we had to do was use our skills to build these bikes.”
“There are students that are so good at working with their hands and have some experience with tools. Some don’t, but they get to come in here and they get to shine,” Lutke said of the impact of the Summit bike tech program. “I think that kids who learn these type of skills, they can apply that to so many aspects of their lives, whether they go into the trades or need to work on things at home.”
Phipps and Lutke hope that the partnership between Summit in Honduras and the bike tech program at Summit High School will continue to grow over the next few years.
“Next year, I would like to take Tom and a group of his students to Honduras and mirror what they are doing in this room right here at the technical school in Santa Barbara,” Phipps said. “So that when these bikes get down they will take them to the technical school and put them back together.”
Lutke said it is important to thank Freeport McMoRan for the grant money for bike parts, Wilderness sports for donating the bikes and Carvers Ski and Bike Rentals, Pioneer Sports and Rebel Sports for the bike boxes.
His classes said they were grateful to Phipps and Summit in Honduras for not only shipping the bikes but also for the idea to start this service project.
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