Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade Energy Bar Recipe

Just in time for the holidays, here's a killer recipe for some homemade energy bars, crafted by one of our volunteers -- they'll be sure to give you the fuel you need to power through a gnarly bike ride in the snow! (This guy just ate one ----->)

Peanut Cereal Butter Bars

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup sugar

4 cups Grape Nuts or Cheerios

¾ cups protein powder

Mix peanut butter, corn syrup and sugar. Microwave on high in two minute intervals until mixture boils. After the first two minutes stir every one minute. When mixture comes to a boil add cereal and gradually add powder. Make sure to mix well. Press mixture into a 9x13 inch greased (butter tastes best) pan. Cool. Cut. Place into individual plastic wrap or baggies (they get hard if the dry out). Yields 30+/- Enjoy!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

HighScope Model: Supportive Environment

Here at the CBC we strive to create and maintain a supportive environment in the shop, a place where participants can express themselves, learn, and grow. A supportive environment makes up the second level of the HighScope Youth Quality Program Assessment model, after a safe environment.

HighScope identifies six ways that staff and volunteers can encourage a supportive environment: staff encourage youth-centered approaches to reframe conflict; staff support youth with encouragement; staff support youth in building new skills; activities support active engagement; session flow is planned, presented, and paced for youth; and staff provides a welcoming atmosphere.

Here are a few ways we brainstormed to help encourage a supportive environment --
  1. Greet participants by name as they enter the shop
  2. Ask them what they prefer to work on, allow them flexibility
  3. Don't do the work for them -- help them when they need it. Allow participants to go try new things, but be on the lookout for frustration.
  4. Give a heads-up in advance of clean-up time (usually 4:45)
  5. When conflict arises, help to diffuse it in constructive ways (it's always ok to take a break -- more about that in a later post...)
  6. Diffuse inappropriate or harmful language or behavior when you first see it-- it's not ok to put another participant down, and they need to know the staff and volunteers will not stand for it
As a volunteer, how else might you help encourage a supportive environment?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Introduction to Rotational Systems

Last week, the CBC staff gathered before the shop opened for a mechanical tutorial -- the subject was bottom brackets (around which the pedals turn), but here's a little introduction to rotational systems in general.

A "rotational system" is any part of the bike that involves circular motion -- the wheels (hubs), steering (headset), and the drive-train (bottom bracket). Each of these parts of the bike operates in a similar way, containing a set of parts that work together to allow smooth, but solid, motion.

Perhaps the most important part of rotational system is the bearings, small metal balls that reduce friction by distributing the pressure placed upon them. Before they were invented, bikes weren't nearly as smooth or comfortable to ride, in fact they were called "boneshakers" and looked like this -- ouch!

For more information about rotational systems (specifically bottom brackets), check out chapter 3 of the Bikes Not Bombs training manual. Jim Langley has a great page that offers a step-by-step guide to overhauling hubs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Maine DHHS Mandated Reporter Training

While we always try to keep the shop as positive an environment as possible, we must always be mindful of the experiences participants are having outside the shop. If you ever suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect, as employees and volunteers ("Mandated Reporters" under Maine law) we have a moral and legal obligation to file a report with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

It's certainly not a pleasant thing to think about, but education is probably the best way to recognize and deal with these harsh realities. The Maine DHHS encourages to look out for physical and behavioral indicators, available here.

All CBC staff complete mandated reporter training and it's suggested that you do too -- it doesn't take long and is available here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parts of a Bicycle

An important first step for improving one's bicycle mechanic skills is to be familiar with the parts of a bicycle. Knowing the difference between a "rim", "tire", and "wheel" will make fixing your bike easier, as well as helping avoid sometimes awkward conversations with bike shop employees!

Most of the parts of the bike are fairly intuitive, though there are some tricky ones. Here's a diagram of the basic parts of a bicycle -- his one happens to be a mountain bike: (Click for larger view)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Volunteering for Bike Part Art

Here's a special message from Ann, our Bike Art Coordinator --

Bike Part Art is the drop-in studio offering of the Community Bicycle Center, held on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The mission is to provide children an opportunity for self expression while confirming the value of recycling through the use of spare bicycle parts. Children also have the opportunity to create bicycle-themed artwork through a painting or drawing; helping them to document and reflect on their other experiences at the CBC such as bike trips, working with mentors or participating in the Trek Across Maine.

Projects so far have included jewelry, mosaics, sculpture and mobiles. Children can select a project based on samples created for the program by the art coordinator or explore their individual interests with the materials on hand. New techniques or projects are introduced monthly. The goal of the class is to promote self-expression and reinforce problem solving and fine motor skills while supporting the values of the CBC in terms of respect, collaboration and appropriate interactions with staff and peers.

Bike Part Art projects are often carried over from week to week so that a child can thoroughly explore them without the pressure to move on to the next project as is usually the case in most school art classes. The room is set up in work stations so that each child can choose the activity that most interests them and have the materials and tools they need at hand . Visual aids in terms of photographs of sculpture & folk art, sample projects, and art books are posted or available in the room and these can often provoke conversations and ideas to stimulate imaginations.

Volunteers may actively assist by holding parts, participating in problem solving or giving feedback. Volunteers to the program enrich the student's experience by arriving with their own unique skills and interests that can inspire more creativity for our young artists. It is not necessary for volunteers to have an art background—just enthusiasm, curiosity and a love of working with kids!