School’s out due to the holiday of Diwali, so there are a number of teenagers here at the shop on S. Dinwiddie Street spending their time learning how to build and fix bikes.
“I’ve learned how to fix a flat tire,” says 12-year-old Evelyn McCabe, holding a wrench in one hand, noting that she’s going to be an engineer one day. “I was actually on a bike ride and got a flat tire, but I knew how to fix it… it makes me feel good because I’m able to do that stuff.”
Phoenix Bikes is an Arlington non-profit, founded in 2007, that teaches kids how to fix bikes. Of course, their mission goes way beyond that. As their website explains, “Phoenix Bikes harnesses the power of bikes to help youth build passion, purpose, and a place in the community.”
“They’re learning social skills, they’re building confidence, they’re learning how to problem solve, persevere through frustration,” Phoenix Bikes executive director Emily Gage tells ARLnow, as cranking and clanging echoes in the background. “It’s so much more than bike mechanics.”
All students in sixth through 12th grades are eligible to go through the programs at Phoenix Bikes.
There’s no application or filtering process, only registration, says Gage. While the vast majority are from either Arlington or Alexandria, students come from across the region to work at the shop.
The main program is “earn-a-bike” where students fix up a bike, then donate it to a community member in need. Phoenix Bikes works with a number of other local nonprofits to provide these bikes to those who are experiencing homelessness, coming out of incarceration, or just in need of reliable transportation. After building a bike for a community member, students get a bike of their very own.
“All the skills they’ve learned, they can put to use on their own bikes,” notes Gage.
Overall, it usually takes the students 12 weeks and about 20 to 25 hours to complete the program, Gage says, though they’re able to do it at their own pace.
It’s also a full service bike shop for the community, where everything from tune-ups to repairs to custom build outs-are done, with the profits also going back to programs. Older students are store managers and sales reps, helping customers work through their issues and find the right bike for them.
Phoenix Bikes also brings its unique method of teaching life skills to several Arlington County and Alexandria schools every semester, by taking the earn-a-bike program to meet students where they are.
Additionally, it has a racing team and more advanced mechanical classes.
In a typical year, Gage says Phoenix works with about 400 students in total. The past year, however, that number has been cut intentionally by half, to only about 200 students, to keep groups smaller due to Covid protocols. The hope is next year the program will get back to its previous capacity.
Tofik Beshir, 14, is walking out the door with his bike that he just repaired. He’s a star pupil and a recent winner of the GRIT award, given to students who show perseverance, discipline, and enthusiasm. He’s been working at Phoenix Bikes for about two years. When he started there, he saw a bike as just a mode of transportation. Now, he sees it as so much more.
“It’s completely changed my world,” he says. “It lets me be myself.”
Beshir has gotten really into mountain biking — something that can be a challenge in Arlington — and racing. Despite his age, he says he’s got his life all “mapped out.” He envisions himself becoming a professional racer, opening his own bike shop, and traveling the world with his bike.
Right now, though, he goes to school, bikes a lot, and spends the rest of the time at Phoenix Bikes tinkering. He also says, laughing, that his friends are asking him to fix their bikes all the time.
With the skills he’s learned, Beshir feels free. He can go anywhere and, if his bike does get a flat or a chain breaks, he can usually fix it.
“Sometimes, I just ride and ride,” he says.
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
James Yoo, 56, is presumed dead as a result of the explosion of the duplex at 844 N. Burlington Street, in the Bluemont neighborhood, Arlington County police confirmed during a news conference this afternoon.
A land-use study teeing up an affordable housing redevelopment project in Aurora Highlands has generated significant interest as it nears completion.
Booeymonger in Ballston will be replaced by a new full-service Nepalese restaurant this spring, according to the incoming tenant.
About Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT): Latinas Leading Tomorrow is a dynamic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young Latina women through education, mentorship, and leadership development. We are committed to fostering a community of future leaders who will make a significant impact to the community.
Job Description: We are seeking a passionate and dedicated Part-time Executive Director to lead our organization into its next phase of growth and impact. The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader who can oversee day-to-day operations, drive fundraising efforts, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders. This is a 1099 position; Remote position with ability to attend DMV events; 8-10 hours a week; $35-40/per hour.
Oversee program operations, including educational and community initiatives.
Ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, maintaining trust and accountability.
Develop and execute a strategic vision aligned with our mission and values.
Lead fundraising efforts in partnership with the Board Members.
Cultivate relationships with community partners, schools, educators, and donors.
Demonstrate strong leadership skills, fostering a positive organizational culture.
Communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders and make compelling public presentations.
Promote inclusivity and collaboration throughout the organization.
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to