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Help buy bikes for kids who don't have one at Brown International Academy

Brown International Academy students started a tradition of biking to school for the fun of being together and exercise on two wheels. Denver7 Gives hopes you can donate so more students can ride.
Posted: 12:22 PM, Dec 24, 2023
Updated: 2023-12-24 17:38:30-05

DENVER — It’s early on a cold December morning and Maura came with the burns. “This is Connor, my very annoying brother, no matter what he says,” she laughs. “I just publicly embarrassed you!”He shot back “yes, again!”

It’s a couple blocks from Sloan’s Lake and one by one, as Brown International Academy students line up, the quiet of the neighborhood beams to life to the cracks of laughter and jokes mixed in with the screeches of brakes.

“You Colorado kids, I’m proud of you,” shouts Allen Cowgill to those gathered in front.

A couple more more minutes pass by and a group of around 50 or so kids, parents and volunteers huddle together.

They’re not quite yet to school, but in about 10 blocks they will be – not by yellow bus – but each riding on their own individual styles.

By looking at the faces of the kids, you’d have to say they seem pretty excited for the start of the school day, especially the getting there part. Each month, Brown International Academy students meet in two separate locations blocks from the school to ride to class together.

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Called ‘Brown Bike Bus’, one route meets near Federal Blvd so kids in that part of the neighborhood can ride west toward the school.

A separate route meets over by Sloan’s Lake and the rolling bike bus heads down 25th avenue for the 10 block ride to Brown International Academy.

Allen Cowgill, an avid Denver-area cyclist whose wife Kristin is an occupational therapist at Brown International Academy, organizes and helps Brown Bike Bus run smoothly.

“About 50 years ago, you know, a really large percentage of kids would bike or walk to school today. And today, it's more like 10 or 15%,” said Allen Cowgill. “There's a bunch of studies that show that kids that can exercise before school, perform better academically, kids with things like ADHD and the like, perform better and do better.”

Once the rules are out of the way and students, parents and volunteers are briefed on the ride, the music is pumped up and off the kids go.Second graders and older can ride together with fellow students, teachers and volunteers and younger students can bike to school with a parent. All young riders must be familiar with basic bicycle safety and pay close attention to the Cowgill’s safety briefing before the start of the rides.

Jeff Tejral rode together with his two kids, Selena, a first-grader and Aiden, who is in third grade at Brown International Academy and biked to school near the front.

“I want my kids to be independent to do or to travel to the city. I want them to think about being safe. I want them to think about, you know, kind of all the things that bike biking brings to them and just have fun with my community,” said Tejral.

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The concept of Brown Bike Bus, one of the first-of-its-kind in Denver, was born from similar concepts in other parts of the country.

During the colder months, Brown Bike Bus happens once a month and then twice when temperatures warm back up.

“Joyful, one word – joyful,” Gary Harty smiles. Harty, a longtime Denver bike advocate, volunteers for Brown Bike Bus.

“We see kids on a variety of rolling methods, they might be on a scooter or roller skates. Their parents are with them. We've got kids as young as kindergarten participating and I think they look forward to it,” said Harty, who explained his role during the ride.

“'I’ll actually be riding sweep, make sure nobody gets left behind and kind of keep the group together from the rear,” explained Harty. “Some of the other volunteers are going to drop off at each corner, and monitor traffic and make sure that the kids stop if they need to stop or the cars will stop and yield to the group as we come through. So you'll see a volunteer at every corner between here and low.”

Help buy bikes for kids who don't have one at Brown International Academy

After about 15 minutes, the group of riders reaches Lowell Blvd and the edge of the school, legs stretched out and ready for a day of learning.

“Oh my gosh, it's so important,” said Jesse Pomeroy,Brown International Academy Physical Education teacher. “The kids, especially at this age, are already kind of active but this gives them another outlet and you know, gives them something to look forward to and be excited about.”

Cowgill shares there are so many benefits to riding together on bikes as a community before the start of class. The only thing they are missing are fellow Brown International Academy classmates and friends.

“About 20% of our kids today are free and reduced lunch and don't have access to a bicycle, or don't own a bicycle,” shared Cowgill. “So something that we're working on and we're struggling with is how do we get bicycles to those kids.”He hopes the school can get more bikes so other Brown International Academy students will have the same opportunities to experience the positive physical and mental health benefits of bicycling.

“Not just before school, but anytime they want,” he added. “Because I think a bike is such a powerful tool that teaches kids independence and the importance of exercise, and it's a lot of fun too.”

If you’d like to help Brown Bike Bus grow and donate dollars to help the school get more bikes for students who don’t have one, Denver7 has opened a Denver7 Gives account to raise funds for the cause.

Just click 'Buy bikes for kids’ from the drop down menu.

The dollars raised will go to local nonprofit Bikes Together, which refurbishes old bikes to ride like new again.

Once the refurbished bicycles are ready, you can be sure we’ll take you along to see how Brown Bike Bus has added new wheels.

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Denver7 recently shared the story of Bikes Together, which is a community bike shop that has been around for more than a decade, providing cost-flexible options to obtain or maintain a bicycle while relying on donated bicycles that the shop fixes and redistributes, ensuring they do not end up in the waste stream.

"A main focus of what we do is we try and remove barriers to bicycle access and education access," said Abby Bohannan, executive director of Bikes Together. "We create a lot of spaces for folks who don't, who haven't necessarily had a lot of those historical opportunities to learn bike mechanics or feel confident or comfortable in a bike shop, to own the space, to learn bike mechanics.”

Denver7 will follow up and share how much was raised through your generous Denver7 Gives donations then introduce some of the Brown International Academy kids who got the opportunity to ride because of you.

Denver7 features the stories of people who need help and now you can help them with a cash donation through Denver7 Gives. One hundred percent of contributions to the fund will be used to help people in our local community.

To donate to this campaign or choose another to support, use the secure form below.

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