Learning to read earns bikes for North Tampa kids

SULPHUR SPRINGS — Luke Pierce, 6, and his brother, Timothy Pierce, 4, checked out the rows of shiny bicycles lined up inside the George Bartholomew North Tampa Recreation Center.

Each bicycle had a sheet of yellow paper taped to its seat with a child’s name.

Timothy had his eye on a “Mongoose” racer bicycle with blue wheel rims. That one didn’t have his name on it but he didn’t care. “I like bikes,” the 4-year-old said, grinning with excitement.

On Saturday the brothers were among about 40 children, and their parents, who took bicycle safety classes before each child received a free bicycle. They also got bicycle locks, lights and helmets.

The “PCAT Kids Bike Fest” at the recreation center was sponsored by area nonprofits including Parents & Children Advancing Together and Devereux, which both receive funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

May is National Bike Month.

“You’ve worked so hard all year to get your grades up and learned how to read,” said Christene Worley, PCAT’s executive director. “You kids are wonderful. I know you are going to be successful because now you know how to read.”

PCAT provides one-on-one tutoring to children ages 5 and 6 who need extra instruction to boost their reading skills. The program is based at All Nations Outreach Center, 8405 N. 11th St., in Sulphur Springs.

The Tampa Police Department and More Health provided the bicycle safety instruction at the bike fest. The bicycles were donated by God’s Pedal Power Ministry, a nonprofit, faith-based charity that donates tricycles and bicycles to children and adults in need.

Originally published May 14, 2013 in the Tampa Tribune.

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