Category Archives: Youth Stories

What’s New in Youth Programs

October, 2022

The Youth Programs Department has welcomed five new staff members this year, including one youth intern, providing an opportunity for an expansion of partnered programming and new and diverse perspectives on youth engagement and program offerings.

We offered several programs this summer, including Earn-A-Bike camps, BIPOC mountain biking camps and long-distance ride training. Additionally, a soft relaunch of community drop-ins (bike-building and maintenance volunteer hours) provided youth with opportunities to build on the skills they learned during camp. 

Two masked instructors standing before a group of students in a circle

Bike Works Program Coordinator Tommy Teav (standing left) and Program Manager Monika Sharma (standing left) introduce themselves to participants of our Earn-A-Bike mechanics & leadership program

This spring and summer we welcomed new partnerships and collaborations with Friends of Youth, Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), STEM Paths Innovation Network (SPIN), Sweetlines, and Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity. Examples include Black Girls/Non-Binary Bike Camp, a multimodal day camp centering Black joy, wellness, and bike mechanics and riding skills, and a week-long riding and mechanics camps with SPIN.

A group of Black women/non-binary cyclists pose for the camera at the light rail

Youth & adult mentors from our summer partnership program with Y-WE took a multi-modal trip by bike, light rail, and water taxi to Alki Beach!

As we enter fall, our department will refocus our attention on outreach, continuing to build capacity for youth engagement at multiple levels of decision making within Bike Works and beyond. During the school year our primary program offerings are off-site, currently at Rainier Beach High School, Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School, and, newly launched: cyclocross at various locations! We continue to prioritize health and safety as the pandemic continues by providing rapid testing for all on-site programming and masking indoors.

Two people inspect a bike wheel on a work table

Rainier Beach Principal & Bike Works board member Ivory Brooks (left) co-facilitates our school-based programming for 9th graders in the “Black Men’s Excellence” advisory period

We are also working collaboratively across our staff to ideate and improve our existing processes. You can find our drop-in schedule, online Bikes-For-All! application, and more on our website. For questions, you can reach our team via email at Please stay tuned for periodic updates!

Khatsini Simani (she/her), Program Director

Someone inspecting their bike with a bouquet of white flowers tied to the top tube

Khatsini Simani at our spring-themed alleycat, “Tour de Fleurs,” in April 2022

A Patch it Forward Success!

Thank you for Patching it Forward! By Patching it Forward, you are helping to cover the cost of 15 neighbors receive the tools & knowledge they need to be an empowered bike rider. Here is just one story of how your support makes a difference.

A story about Patching it Forward

[Image Description: A bunch of bicycles are leaning against a picnic table. The shadow of the person taking the picture is cast across the grass.]

“At Bike Works we do many rides with youth, some youth have their own bike and helmet others do not so we supply

them.  This may seem like a simple idea but at the heart of it, giving youth access to a bike and a supportive community starts breaking down barriers and opening people up to freedoms and opportunities they didn’t know were possible for them.

Street Burners, the name given to those who have completed a Bike Works mechanics class, go on organized outings to ride bikes, explore the city, and build community together. While on a taco ride, where we ride from taco truck to taco truck and eat food while exploring the city, one rider got a flat tire. It was

[Image Description: A person on a bicycle rides in with a bicycle tire draped across them. They are smiling, riding on a bike path with grass a residential neighborhood in the background)

a slow leak so they pedaled on to the next block where the first taco truck stop was.  I, as the staff leader for the trip, didn’t have a patch kit on me but thankfully someone in the group did.

We stopped at our first taco truck and instead of just one person assisting with the flat; the whole group pitched in to

help. One person got out a patch kit but the glue was dry, so another got out their patch kit, someone took off the tire and tube, another grabbed a rag and inspected the tire for any foreign objects while others took food orders as to not let the flat hinder our adventure.  After all was said and done we carried on our taco eating and riding adventure.

A simple incident but a beautiful reminder that we are all on a

[Image Description: Three youth have their heads bent over the rear tire of a bicycle. The bicycle is largely obscured by one rider leaning over and reaching down.]

journey and sometimes you hit an obstacle and feel deflated. We all need that friend with a patch kit to help us get back in our saddle and inflate us again. Youth are on a journey and have obstacles that they have inherited such as lack of access to funds, foods, transportation.  So a patch kit to me

means pitching in to help our fellow members of the community.  And I am grateful for all those people patching it forward and making experiences and growth possible.”

For as little as $3.84 you can Patch it Forward to your neighbors in need.

Van Asselt Youth Get Some Bikes

Bike Works has over 92 community partners. Each partnership is unique and allows us to do what we do best – use the bicycle as a vehicle for positive change. This heart warming email to the Van Asselt Elementary School staff highlights what we love about these partnerships.

Hi all,

I’ve been partnering with Bike Works, a local bike shop in Columbia City, for the last 5 years to get Van Asselt students free bicycles.  Wednesday afternoon was our most recent clinic.  During the clinics, Bike Works staff come to Van Asselt and lead bike skills & safety drills where kids practice riding through an obstacle course, learn road safety and hand signals.  They also learn how to do a pre-ride “ABC safety check” (air in the tires, brakes working, chain tight) to make sure their bikes are safe and functioning correctly.  At the end of the clinic, they get to keep a free BMX bike, helmet and bike lock.

This time around we had 6 kids participate, three 5th graders and three 4th graders.

UGGAB: Two youth in helmets at Van AsseltYouth getting ready to ride the obstacle courseYouth enjoying the ride around the obstacle course
[Image Description: Two youth stand side by side in helmets in the school gym, the shiny wood floor and compressed bleachers visible behind. Both looking at the camera, excited and also a little timid. The student on the right is wearing a gray long sleeved tee with a black and red-pinstriped sports jersey over the top and a matte black helmet. The student on the left is wearing a navy long sleeved shirt with a navy & white horizontal striped shirt layered on top and a shiny black helmet.][Image Description: A student sits atop a black BMX bike with their feet and kickstand both on the ground. Wearing jeans, a navy hoodie with a neon green design, and a shiny black helmet, his cheeks are puffed in concentration. He stares at the bicycle tire just visible in front of him. Another youth on a red bike is visible in the background , with one leg on the pedal and the other on the floor he is preparing to take off.][Image Description: A youth rides toward the camera on a blue BMX bike, looking past a cone on the ground that sits to his left. He is smiling, wearing jeans, and a olive and rust colored camo sweatshirt. He is riding in a gym, the shiny wood floor reflecting light. There are other kids on bikes off in the far corner of the picture with some adults talking them through their ride.]

Actually, this was part of the obstacle course – kids had to take one hand off the bars and look back over their shoulder to identify which sign the adult was holding (car, bus, cow). Now I know why the call him “Mr Moo”!

Educator holding a sign as part of the obstacle course
[Image Description: An adult looks at the camera, mouth upturned in a smile, holding a sign with the silhouette of a cow on it. The sign is large, covering most of his chest. He has light brown hair and is wearing a bright green and blue scarf]

Bike Works is a local bike shop in Columbia City (on S Ferdinand St, right around the corner from the Columbia City Bakery).  It’s a pretty unique organization in that they have a huge focus on education and empowerment of youth.  They offer many youth (and adult) classes and lead many bicycling events/rides.  They also have a very successful recycle & reuse program.

Blue BMX bike against the fence

[Image Description: A blue BMX bike, kickstand down, is in front of a chain link fence. The handlebars are turned in and the bike is locked to a post in the fence.]

One more pic.  Here’s what I saw on my way into the building yesterday: 

William rode his new bike to school the next morning!  That’s what this program is all about.

All for now,

[Van Asselt Educator]







It takes valuable staff time and resources to prepare these bikes for their new homes, to deliver them to the school, and to host educational (and fun!) bicycle rodeos so that the students feel confident riding their bicycle. Please consider hosting a bike drive benefiting Bike Works. Email to get started!

Youth Leadership

Today, as with most days, we are reflecting on the importance of youth leadership and community. The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) at Bike Works recently voted in 4 new members, including Anna who drew this powerful image as part of her application.


The YAC is a group of dedicated youth who participate more fully in the vision and governance of the organization.

Bike Works was featured in this awesome video by School’s Out Washington.

We are so proud of these articulate, engaged, and empowered youth. It is the continued support from our donors and volunteers that make it all possible – thank you.

ParentMap Superheroes!

This month, Deb Salls, the Executive Director of Bike Works was honored in the Superhero issue of ParentMap Magazine. Read the full article here.


Deb moved to Seattle just for Bike Works in 2011 and she truly embodies Bike Works’ mission- building sustainable communities by educating youth and promoting bicycling. Her whole career has been dedicated to youth empowerment & building community. Not only does Deb serve as the Executive Director of Bike Works, she volunteers her time and expertise on the boards of numerous Seattle organizations like the Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, which is dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music. She is a connector who strengthens our entire community.

In true Bike Works fashion, when Deb was invited to come in for a head shot for the Superheroes issue she immediately reached out to Youth Programs for inspiration. The Girls’ RIDES Club (Ride, IMGP5058Investigate, Discover, Environment, Society) came to the rescue with the same flair of creativity and leadership encouraged in all of our classes. The result landed these young women, decked out as bicycle superheroes, the cover of the magazine.

RIDES Club is a program designed to encourage youth from diverse backgrounds to get on their bikes and keep pedaling. This is an eight week program for youth who want to increase their road riding skills and get out and explore their communities. Youth explore the urban environment by bicycle and create their own maps of the city.IMGP4970

Bike Works youth programs foster leadership development and critical thinking by providing a safe environment for IMGP5087youth to plan and reflect upon their decisions. Girls’ RIDES Club created their own agenda, which included a hot-cocoa ride to independent coffee shops and a nature scavenger hunt around Seward Park. As a group they learn to ride safely, support one another, explore their surroundings, and have fun!

Bike Works is about building the skills and community so that youth (and adults!) can go out and feel empowered to ride on their own. In the instance of Girls’ RIDES club, two youth who observe Sabbath on Saturdays, Bike Works’ busy day for clubs and group rides, have started their own Girls Bike Club.  For almost a year, they have been meeting and riding as a group of 6 on Sundays.  These young leaders took initiative, tapped into the core of their community, and are using the bicycle as a vehicle for change. Bike Works is even looking into the feasibility of Sunday programming for 2017. It’s about youth doing it for themselves. It’s about building community & promoting cycling because we are our own superheroes, just like Deb.


To learn more about RIDES Club or to enroll in the next camp, check out the Youth Programs Page.