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Empowering Hilo Youth Through Biking: A Journey of Discovery and Community Support

Over an unusually sunny two days in late December in Hilo, if you were driving along Manono Street in the heart of Hilo, you might have seen twenty middle and high school students with a crew of adults from a variety of agencies working on bike maintenance and bike safety skills. This was the first in what we hope is future bike empowerment youth programs that share the freedom and joy of bicycling with youth around the islands of Hawaiʻi.

During this Winter Bike Workshop, Kōkua Kalihi Valleyʻs KVIBE staff and interns led an immersive bike workshop for the young participants of Hilo. The focus was on providing hands-on bike maintenance lessons and imparting crucial bike riding safety skills. The genuine enthusiasm and curiosity exhibited by the youth made the event truly special. 

This initiative, funded through a Department of Health grant, brought together a unique partnership of community organizations dedicated to safe active transportation and culturally responsive youth services. KVIBE and One Stop Center went the extra mile by generously gifting each student with a brand-new bike and individual travel-sized bike maintenance kits. The Hawaiʻi Bicycling League contributed helmets and bike lights, ensuring the safety of our young riders. Bikeshare Hawaiʻi provided combination locks, and Secure Bikeshare LLC and People for Active Transportation Hawaiʻi supplied HIBIKES, Hawaiʻi Island’s bikeshare bikes, for the visiting KVIBE staff and interns, as well as other bike leaders on the group ride.

The culmination of our event was a group ride with Mayor Mitch Roth and Hawaiʻi County Planning staff. Together, we pedaled to Keaukaha Elementary School, where we had the privilege of hearing from artist and Keaukaha resident Kawehi Mahi Roberts. She shared her rich history in Keaukaha and discussed the recent quick build she created with the community to make walking and rolling safer for the families in Keaukaha. Our journey continued to Queen Lili‘uokalani Park, where Friends of Queen Lili‘uokalani Park enlightened us about the history of this beautiful oasis.

The event concluded with a mahalo circle, encapsulating the spirit of gratitude and camaraderie that defined the entire experience. The blend of joy, cultural responsiveness, bike safety skills, and youth development made this event truly memorable.

Students who participated in this event reported riding their bikes almost every day since the event and increasing their daily physical activity immensely.

Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson

Program Manager: Safe, Accessible and Inclusive Mobility (SAIM)
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