Maggie Vernon was enjoying cycling in the sunshine on Friday in Calgary.
“When I get on the bike I just feel happy, because I love biking,” Vernon said.
The 13-year-old Grade 8 student was riding high thanks to a local group that provided her with a refurbished mountain bike, and much more.
“We learned about the mechanics of a bike, how to make sure your bike is safe,” Vernon said.
She learned those lessons with Two Wheel View, a non-profit agency that fixes up donated bikes for Calgarians in Grades 7 through 12.
“We actually think of ourselves as a youth development and youth empowerment program first and the bike is just our tool for reaching the lives of young people,” the agency’s Molli Bennett said.
A big part of that is Two Wheel View’s free ‘Earn-a-Bike’ program, which Vernon took part in.
For many struggling families, it’s the only way to get a bike, while also learning the basics of bike mechanics.
“If you learn that, ‘I can, with my own two hands, fix this bicycle,’ that’s a confidence boost that translates to, ‘I feel like I can do anything,'” Bennett said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an end to its regular in-person programs, the agency has shifted to running them online.
“So in a time where we are all not able to do as many things, it’s an opportunity to get out of their house, get active, spend some time outside, relax,” Bennett said.
“Biking is really great for your mental health and happiness and really gives young people a sense of freedom.”
Vernon is thankful that Two Wheel View was able to continue its programs, despite all the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“I love the fact that they did carry on, because a lot of people at home don’t have much to do — it’s pretty boring, you can’t go anywhere” Vernon said. “(Biking is) just a fun break from everything else going on.”