Getting a fix of two-wheeled fun during COVID-19
By Darren Lum
A middle-school teacher with a love for cycling is trying to get as many young people on a bike as possible during the health crisis.
Blake Paton, a teacher at J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School, is asking the public to donate unloved and derelict bicycles, which he will repair and distribute to local families in need. Pick-up is also available if required. Paton is also offering repairs for people for free and is encouraging those who are able, to donate to the food bank as payment.
Coming up on his 25th year of teaching in the area, he wanted to offer others the same freedom he feels when he goes for a ride.
“You know that there’s bikes out there that don’t have riders who love them and there are riders out there who [would love] to have a bike. It’s a matter of connecting the dots. I can’t really do my job as a phys-ed teacher the way I normally would, but what I can do is help put kids on bikes so that when I tell them, as part of their daily fitness routine to go out and get a bike ride in or run then they can do that. It’s a time when kids have been cooped up at home and they’re stuck on the property and the roads are almost traffic free right now. It’s like, ‘Hey, go for a bike ride. Go for a bike ride and feel a little bit of freedom [from] this madness that we’re living through right now,’” he said.
Catherine Carr of Haliburton picked up a repaired mountain bike for her 12-year-old son, Addison.
She said her son was excited to ride his bike, but discovered it was in disrepair and had been using her bike in the interim.
Carr learned about the opportunity on Facebook and welcomed the chance to donate to the food bank so her son could ride his bike.
Paton said being outside on a bicycle is one of the things people can still do.
“If bikes aren’t working then kids can’t use them. If you don’t have a bike then you can’t bike, so it’s a problem we can fix,” he said.
For more information contact Paton through Twitter at @monsieurpaton, and email at Blake.Paton@tldsb.on.ca or see Blake Paton on Facebook.