WILMINGTON, NC – Dusty Casteen of A Bike for Every Child turns two wheels into conversation starters with Wilmington youth. Working alongside them, he teaches both practical mechanical skills and life skills that will hopefully keep them on track.
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A Bike for Every Child provides more than 1,000 free bikes per year for children in need
They started city center bike tours to generate the income needed to repair old bikes
They run a junior mechanic program which works as a youth outreach program
“We try to use a bike as a way to relate to people, so it’s pretty much just a vehicle for relationship building,” Casteen said.
Casteen started this operation in his living room in 2015 after he and his best friend started finding old bikes, putting them back in motion and giving them to people in need.
“I think the first two years we didn’t make a dime at all, and from there it was really good because the community kind of found out what we were doing and they came to our sides and have done anything from bike rides to donations. parts and tools, ”Casteen said.
Six years ago he hadn’t planned a place for kids to come to after school to work on bikes and escape the weight of the world a little bit, but now that he exists he doesn’t want to do anything to put jeopardized the links that was built.
“Sometimes they have things going on that you don’t know,” Casteen said. “It’s hard to figure that out until you give them just enough time to lean on you. I think all the kids are really in pain right now, a lot more than they were, and it kind of gives them the opportunity to get away from it all – to come to a place that they feel they are in. comfortable.
But the pandemic made getting bike parts more difficult, especially for a nonprofit operating on a low budget, and Casteen hated the idea of limiting the impact of the program on the community.
“Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, when you’re trying to devote your whole life to doing something really good and you can’t find funding or you can’t find bikes or parts,” Casteen said. “The cycle industry is in shambles right now … and it’s getting harder and harder for us to get what we need. “
In order to generate more money, Casteen came up with the idea of offering bike tours of downtown Wilmington that show people hidden places they might not know in the city.
“Every purchase price of an electric bike ride puts another kid’s bike on the road,” Casteen said. “So not only do you come in and have fun, take a ride, but you’re directly responsible for a kid who can’t afford a bike to buy a bike in Wilmington.”
For anyone wishing to donate, A Bike For Every Child is located in the basement of the Harrelson Center in downtown Wilmington, or you can Click here to book a visit or find more information.