Steve Genik, founder of ReCyclers Bikes For Kids. (Facebook)

Recycling bikes for kids yields priceless smiles

Volunteer workshops were held in Chilliwack to restore bikes to gleaming near-new condition

There is nothing quite as exhilarating as riding a bike.

Steve Genik, founder of ReCyclers: Bikes for Kids, knows this all too well.

“A bike means freedom,” Genik said. “When I was a kid, parents told us to get outside and play, and we’d be gone on our bikes the whole day.”

The idea to fix up used bicycles and give them away to kids in need dawned on him while he was collecting scrap metal a few years ago.

There’d always be a bunch of bikes in the stuff headed for the landfill. That is, until he came up with a unique way to put those unwanted bikes to good use, with a little tinkering help from his talented and caring friends.

ReCyclers: Bikes for Kids has successfully managed to “recycle” an astounding 450 bicycles in the past five years, and give them away for free.

Genik says he does it for the priceless smiles.

“It’s more fun to do that than a lot of other things,” Genik said. “It’s so rewarding. When you see them happy, it’s a great feeling. You can’t buy that.”

Genik, who lives in Aldergrove, said he collects donations of bikes from across the Lower Mainland, and then distributes them all over as well, from Vancouver to Kelowna. About 80 per cent are given away to kids.

So far this year they have given out about 70 bikes in Chilliwack.

The ReCyclers also hosted volunteer workshops in Chilliwack on several Saturdays over the past year, where volunteers were kept busy repairing, cleaning or stripping down the bikes, restoring them to almost new and gleaming condition.

Then they try to match the bikes to the kids – or sometimes adults — who need them most.

“Although we don’t discriminate or ask if people are low-income, everybody needs help once in a while,” Genik said. “I’ve needed help at times in my life. Sometimes all people need is a push in the right direction.”

And a bike can do that in some cases.

“Plus everyone has bikes laying around that they are not using,” Genik said.

They get a few messages a week coming in through the ReCyclers: Bikes for Kids Facebook page from folks who know someone in need of a bike.

“Right now we’re expanding and taking on more volunteers,” Genik says. “And we can always use more bike mechanics.”

It’s not just children on the receiving end of the bikes. They also give them away occasionally to seniors, single moms, homeless, and temporary farm workers. It’s based on the honour system. If someone says they need one, they’ll see what they can do.

“Over the years we try to help everyone we can. Even if it’s just a minor repair here or there I’ll do it. I carry my tools around with me. I’m a softie and I don’t really say ‘no’ very often,” Genik admitted.

His friends are drawn to help out as well, and several from Chilliwack have pitched in.

ReCyclers volunteer and avid cyclist Lee Phillipson organized and ran the Bike Zone at Party in the Park on July 19 which focused on cyclist safety with the help of other volunteers, and a dozen of the refurbished bikes.

“Riding a bike is a healthy, practical way to get around town so it made perfect sense to us to connect Recyclers Bikes for kids with our existing cycling community,” Phillipson said.

“We decided to host a ‘Bike Zone’ at Party In The Park this summer and received fantastic community support in bringing together this large event.”

All of the bikes came with new helmets, lights, bells and locks. They pulled it off in partnership with Cycle Chilliwack, Cycling Without Age, Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association, Valley Cycle Locksmiths, Chilliwack Dogwood Monarch Lions and many local volunteers.

“It was heartwarming to watch the happiness on the kids’ faces as they tried out their new bike for the first time,” Phillipson said. “We all had a great time coming together to bring this cycling event to our neighbourhood.”

“We even got friends out for a few rides who hadn’t been on a bike in over 10 years. I encourage everyone to get involved, and volunteer, it’s worth it.”

READ MORE: Cycle plan has big dreams

READ MORE: Bike lane debris irks cyclist


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Volunteers Candy Bevan and Tabitha Kagina (background) cleaning bikes as part of the ReCyclers Bikes For Kids group. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Tabitha Kagina works on a second-hand bike that will be given away as part of ReCyclers Bikes For Kids. (Jenna Hauck/ TheProgress)

Lee Phillipson (left) and Candy Bevan restoring gently used bikes. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

From left, Tabitha Kagina, Lee Phillipson and Candy Bevan. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

From left, volunteers Tabitha Kagina, Lee Phillipson and Candy Bevan clean up second-hand bikes as part of the ReCyclers Bikes For Kids. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

RCMP urge caution for back to school drivers

Police are asking drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians

UPDATE: Police response on Cheam First Nation a ‘non-event’, RCMP say

More than two dozen RCMP and ERT vehicles were at the First Nation looking for a known fugitive

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Memorial to deceased teen stays in place through Labour Day

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Walnut Grove skate park

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

Most Read