At Red Stick Mom, we are on a journey to continuously learn about the importance of dismantling systematic racism and white privilege as a community. We’ve been happy to share in supporting various black-owned local businesses and are having conversations with our kids about race. We want to continue to show support which is why we are starting a new monthly blog series to highlight local organizations who are working diligently to serve our neighbors of color in the Greater Baton Rouge area. Our hope is to raise awareness about the great work they are already doing and share it with others.
How Front Yard Bikes Began
While he was a student at LSU, Dustin Lafont was constantly working on bicycles on the front lawn of his house in South Baton Rouge. One day, a young boy showed up and asked for help fixing his bike. Then he brought a friend who also needed help, who also had a friend who needed help. Soon there were a dozen kids meeting in Dustin’s front yard twice a week to learn how to fix and maintain their bikes. Since that first kid on the front lawn in 2010, Front Yard Bikes has grown to 2 locations and served over 400 youth in the South Baton Rouge.
Dustin’s belief that God will provide has been his primary motivation for meeting weekly with the kids of South Baton Rouge for the past 6 years. “These kids deserve the opportunity to learn, grow and ride in a safe place. God willing we can make that a reality.”
The Front Yard Bikes Mission
Front Yard Bikes is a community bike shop that focuses on teaching participants of all ages how to fix and maintain bikes. They teach and develop skills in mathematics, physics and mechanics, while promoting inclusivity, mentorship, recreation and academic achievement. Front Yard Bikes offers youth in the community a safe, free after-school program. They are taught responsibility and become peer leaders as they are faced with ethical and moral questions in their day-to-day lives. The heart of this program is motivated by compassion for kids from low-income families that are willing to work for what they get. They hope to impact the youth of Baton Rouge, one bike at a time, one heart at a time, because the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Below is a list of their amazing programs:
Earn A Bike Program: Front Yard Bikes main program allows youth from the community to have the opportunity to work in their bike shop to earn their own bike. Youth work hand-in-hand with shop mechanics to learn bicycle mechanics and bike maintenance as they move towards the goal of receiving their own bike.
Friday Rides Program: Every Friday from 4:15 to 6:00PM they embark on a bike field trip. These rides include trips to parks, libraries, museums, monuments and more as they embrace the fun aspects of riding bikes while exploring educational and recreational opportunities available within safe biking distance. All participants are required to wear helmets and know the rules of the road.
Gardening Program: One of the many tasks at Front Yard Bikes is to help with the garden. Youth participants can water, plant, weed, harvest, and weigh food. Anyone who helps with the garden is allowed to take produce home. From tomatoes and watermelon to mustard greens and sweet potatoes, we have a large variety of food for both kids and volunteers.
Welding Program: To give students more opportunities to learn valuable job skills, they now offer a welding program throughout the year. Students gain hands-on experience welding while having fun welding sculptures as well as functional metal works for bike shop. The class meets at the fabrication facility at the Youth and Family Services Center. Additional paperwork is required to take part in all welding related programs.
Academic Accountability: Front Yard Bikes partners with VIPS (volunteers in public schools) to serve at Glasgow Middle, Westdale Middle, and University Terrace Elementary. They work diligently to keep kids accountable in the classroom as they strive for their high-school diplomas. From recognizing positive behaviors to providing academic assistance during their Wednesday tutoring program, kids can understand the value of their education as they prepare for the job market.
How You Can Support Front Yard Bikes
Like any non-profit, financial donations are greatly appreciated and go a long way. Front Yard Bikes is currently in need of financial support for student internships. They typically pay $1000 an intern per school year but are behind since employing students this summer to make up for loss of income for parents out of work. They will also gladly take donated bikes in *any shape* or form! Click HERE to easily make a contribution to help replenish their internship funds right now!