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Local nonprofit uses bikes to educate young people and help them dream bigger

Nine 13 Sports is adapting to the pandemic and changing lives.
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Posted at 8:31 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 08:31:12-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Nine 13 Sports says before the pandemic in 2019 alone, they served more than 57,000 youth in Indiana, and though they’ve had to make some changes to adapt during the pandemic, they are still on track to keep helping.

“To teach them not just the health and fitness aspects that go with riding a bike but workforce development. We teach young people how to work with their hands and how to build things,” said Nine 13 sports CEO Tom Hanley.

In fact, the education non-profit has incorporated a new space that will allow students to come into their headquarters on 29th Street and continue learning.

Before the pandemic, the program typically went into schools. Still, now they have adjusted to allow young people an opportunity to keep dreaming despite remote learning and restrictions put in place because of Covid-19. The new space allows for social distancing and has sanitizing stations set up near each bicycle.

“Putting a kid on a bike in our physical education program as a part of our kids riding bikes program or being able to put a wrench in their hands and teach them how to use it. Teaching them how to use it and how to fix a bike through our kids' building bikes program. We want to use all those skills to create new opportunities for the youth here in Indianapolis,” said Hanley.

Young people can take part in a few different programs. Explore Indy, Kids riding bikes, or Kids building bikes.

“With kids building bikes, it's incentive-based over four weeks we see them twice per week, and they learn how to work on a bike. At the end of the program, they get to take the bike home. It is a way to teach mechanical skills that could create pathways for future employability. Learning how to work on a bike becomes learning how to work on a car and becoming a mechanic. It could even lead to kids realizing they want to become engineers because they are fascinated by how the bike works. We are using this platform to open their eyes,” said Hanley.

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