FORT SMITH (July 4, 2014) – Inmates in a Fort Smith facility have chosen to once again help their community and learn valuable skills in the process. The Bikes for Kids program is a joint initiative with many partners in Fort Smith.
The Fort Smith Métis Council approached corrections facility staff to see if they would be interested in having inmates learn to repair unclaimed bikes provided either by the Town of Fort Smith or donated by community members. Staff at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex (Male Unit) quickly saw the benefits both for the inmates and community and agreed to start the Bikes for Kids program. The Métis Council provided funds towards the purchase of tools and bike parts and local business partners in the community, such as Lou’s Small Engines, were quick to agree to match funds for the needed tools.
“People in every community in the Northwest Territories use bikes but few have people who can do bicycle repairs,” said Minister of Justice David Ramsay. “The skills the inmates learn will be transferable when they return home and is one more avenue that could present future employment for inmates. The added bonus is that kids who might not otherwise have them can have a chance to get a bike of their own.”
Inmates felt so strongly about the work and the chance to give back to their community that they took money from their Inmates’ Welfare fund to start the project off and bought two new bikes, as repaired bikes were not yet ready to be donated. The Fort Smith Métis Council matched their donation, allowing a total of four bikes to be presented to deserving Grade 1 and 2 students at the end-of-year celebration at Joseph Burr Tyrell School.
One organization has already had the opportunity to use the services to repair a child’s bike. Mary Bishop, Acting Social Work Supervisor for the Fort Smith Health Authority, sent a letter to the inmates thanking them for their good work, “we are sure this program will be a great success. It’s a wonderful idea for the inmates and for our community,” said Bishop.
For more information:
Department of Justice