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New Year, New Ride


Each year, JUSD elementary schools receive donations of bicycles for students in need. Distributed to kids just in time for the holidays, the bikes are provided by Bicycles for Children, a non-profit organization based in Temescal Valley.

“I think every kid needs a bicycle,” said Jason Atkinson, 2nd grade teacher at Del Sol Academy. “It’s something we all grew up with. Especially the time we’re in right now, kids need more chances to get some exercise and get some of that energy out.”

Woman in mask assembles bikeMr. Atkinson was among the volunteers for an outdoor, socially distanced bicycle assembly event hosted by Parent Involvement & Community Outreach. Assembly normally takes place at El Cerrito Middle School in Corona, where more than 750 bikes are prepped for distribution to local school districts. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, participating districts were given the option to postpone until the spring or hold small-scale assembly events themselves. 

Jose Campos, Director of PICO, facilitates the bicycle distribution for JUSD. When he reached out to elementary school principals for their feedback, the consensus was that no one wanted to see the event cancelled. 

“Bicycles for Children is another way to connect children with their school,” shared Mr. Campos. “We felt that during this time we needed to [remain] a strong presence in our school communities.”

Twelve elementary schools decided to participate in the winter distribution, while the remaining five chose to wait until the spring.

Mother in mask helps daughter in mask ride new bike
“I think families need to be cheered up this season, especially during this pandemic,” shared Principal Monica Leon of Pedley Elementary, who also helped with assembly. “One of the things I love the most is seeing kids’ faces light up when they receive the gifts.”

​Winter bicycle pickups took place prior to the break and were organized by the school sites. Teachers and staff from each participating school nominated 5-7 students to receive a bicycle and helmet based solely on need. At West Riverside, 1st grader Yvette felt excited and lucky to be picking up her new bike, which she planned to ride all winter break.

“It feels amazing,” said Mariela, Yvette’s mother. “We’re so grateful. [Yvette] has worked so hard in school. She has an amazing teacher and an amazing staff that’s always helping her if she needs anything.”

Bicycles for Children began in 2012 as a project to donate 155 bikes to impoverished kids in Corona-Norco Unified School District. The project was so successful that it grew into an annual drive that now serves over 120 elementary schools across the Inland Empire.

rows of bikes“A bike is a larger gift than many of our families can afford at this time of year,” shared Principal Marcy Hale of West Riverside Elementary. “Physical activity is so important for the wellbeing and health of our kids. What a blessing it is to provide the tools for kids to be able to get the fresh air and be outside and have some fun being a kid.”

Bicycles for Children has provided JUSD students with nearly 800 bicycles since 2014. For more information, please visit their website:​.