Happy Trails

Keeping Kids Moving with Safe Bikes

Kelso, Washington (population 12,000) was in the midst of hard economic times. Once a thriving logging town, Kelso had seen businesses close and jobs disappear. As families struggled to make ends meet, kids often had to give up some of their cherished pastimes.

The Lions Step In

There seemed to be no playful laughter on the once-busy streets. “It was evident that the kids needed something,” says Kelso Lions Club member Chuck Klawitter. “We wanted to help the children and have a positive impact on the community.”

The Kelso Lions started a bike clinic at Barnes Elementary School. They offered free repairs, helmets, bikes and bicycle safety instruction for schoolchildren. And they made it easy. The kids simply dropped off their bikes at school in the morning and Lions volunteers repaired the bikes and returned them to the kids at the end of the school day. “We put on a lot of new grips, tires, tubes,” said Genece Cooper of Bob’s Pedal Power. “We made sure the wheels were functioning, the brakes were working –  just everything that entails making a safe bike.”

On a Brighter Path

Kelso is a great place to ride bikes; in fact, there’s a trail along the Coweeman River that’s perfect. The scenery is beautiful, and when the weather’s nice, families are out there all day – something the Kelso Lions wanted to preserve. “We really didn’t have the extra income to buy new bikes for the kids,” said local parent Nikki Kersenbrock. “They have been wanting new bikes for a couple of years.”  Now, with the bikes donated by the Kelso Police Department, the Lions were able to make sure more kids were given the chance to ride.


An elementary school, a bicycle shop and the local police.

Financial Facts

In all, the cost for the repairs, helmets and new bikes was less than US$2,000. But the happiness they brought to the children of Kelso is priceless.

Location: Kelso, Washington, USA
Kelso, Washington, USA

Tips and Tools

Make It Happen: How to Keep Kids Moving with Safe Bikes

Where did you start? »
The project began with strictly repairing children’s bikes. Due to the success and appreciation from the kids and their families, we eventually expanded the club’s efforts. We contacted the local police, bike repair shop, school and Trauma Program Coordinator at the hospital.
Where did you get the bikes? »
The children brought their bikes for repair and the local police donated bikes they had available. Also, once news spread, the club received several donated used bikes.
How long did it take to organize? »
The first time, the project took several months to organize. However, it can easily be done in about a month, especially if limited to children’s existing bikes for repair.
How did you train volunteers to fix the bikes? »
Volunteers received ”on the job training” from two professionals from the bike repair shop that helped us with the project. The shop also provided discounts on needed supplies for the repairs.
How did you provide the bike safety education classes (who taught them)? »
The club contacted the Trauma Program Coordinator at the hospital. A trauma nurse instructed the children on the importance of bike helmets and safety.
Any special words of advice? »
The project takes more space than expected. Have a large space to store the bikes donated from the community. Work on some of the donated bikes in advance of the bike clinic at the school, since children will be bringing their bikes for repair too.

"Oh my gosh – this bike really rocks! I can’t wait to ride it."

Bike Recipient

"The Lions club provides such a valuable connection. To have an organization that actually reaches out and is focused on our youth is just critical."

Brenda Ward,
Principal, Barnes Elementary

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