Southwest Open School will offer students a bicycle mechanic class beginning this fall, and donated bikes are needed.

The elective course is in partnership with Project Bike Tech, an education organization that helps to build bike shop classrooms in high schools.

SWOS was chosen to receive $90,000 for a student bike mechanic program with grant funding provided by the Outride Fund and Cantena Foundation.

Students must complete 120 hours of course work to earn a bike mechanic certification, which will enable them to get into the trade, said instructor Scott Spear.

“The main goal is to teach kids bike mechanic skills and give them a job opportunity,” he said. “Students will learn how to evaluate a problem, then do the repair.”

SWOS installed a bike shop this summer on campus, and students will help build out the interior.

The grant funding allows for 11 bike mechanic stations with stands, a work bench, tools and manuals. The course will be offered through the fall and spring semesters.

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Southwest Open School teacher Scott Spear shows off a new shop for a bike mechanic course will be offered beginning this year. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Donated bikes will be rebuilt and repaired as part of the new class, then given away to community members in need of a bike.

“Really for anyone, having a working bike can make a world of difference,” Spear said. “It opens up a lifestyle of exercise, and is an opportunity to explore all the trails around here.”

Bicycles also can fill critical transportation needs for people to get to work and school.

“We had student across town who was not making it to class because he had no way to get here. When we set him up with a working bike, he started showing up,” Spear said.

The course will train students on basic repair, maintenance and upgrades for a variety of bikes, including cruisers, BMX, road and mountain bikes. Spear has completed training in bike instruction.

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Southwest Open School teacher Scott Spear looks over bikes that will be repaired as part of a new mechanic course. Once fixed up, the bikes will be donated to community members. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Ongoing funding allows for the program to be self sustaining. For every student that completes the course, Project Bike Tech contributes an additional $1,000 and provides curriculum support and training.

The Project Bike Tech curriculum uses bicycle education as a conduit for career opportunities and to teach core academics of engineering, technology, math and science, according to its website. The bike mechanic courses have served more than 3,000 students since the organization began in 2007.

The Piñon Project is helping to collect and store the bikes. To donate bikes, contact the Pinon Project at 970-564-1195 or SWOS at 970-565-1150.