They came from 13 schools for books and bikes – rewards for scholastic achievements presented to 350 metro Detroit kids at the “Big Bike and Book Giveaway Day” held recently on Detroit’s west side at Palmer Park.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US) gave the young students a decidedly different type of wheeled transportation – Huffy bikes, and the Kiwanis Club provided 1,500 books. All the books were appropriate for each grade level, the bikes shiny and new, and the kids got a lot of treats for walking the academic straight and narrow.
Students from elementary, middle and high school brought parents, grandparents and others who wanted to celebrate their academic accomplishment. In total 700-800 people attended the event.
Those chosen to receive a new bike and books were selected by Communities In Schools of Metropolitan Detroit (CIS), which provides education and community resources to help students successfully learn, stay in school and continue on the path to graduation.
“The best way we can encourage students to value and take pride in their education is to show them how proud we are of their accomplishments,” says Sonja Allen, CEO of CIS. “When students feel that their community appreciates their hard work, supports them, and believes in them, they will believe in themselves and stay determined to achieve their dreams.”
Communities In Schools concentrates on the ABCs – attendance, behavior and course performance. Through its “Achievement Matters” program, each student develops goals in one or more of the ABC’s for the school year. School-based site coordinators track individual student progress throughout the academic year. The students recognized at Books and Bikes maintained high standards in those areas.
They didn’t have to sit through a stuffy ceremony, though. Big Bike and Book Giveway Day was for kids and in a relaxed picnic atmosphere. The kids enjoyed snow cones, popcorn, a live DJ, face painting and, yes, an actual picnic.
“It’s a privilege for FCA employees to help make a summer of fun and learning possible for students in Detroit,” said Lesley Slavitt, head of civic engagement at FCA US and CEO of the FCA Foundation. “The ‘Big Bike and Book Giveaway Day’ is a great opportunity for our employees to work with community-based partners and make such a summer possible for youth in Detroit.”
Not only are the books bikes a reward for a job well done, they will also help keep the kids active throughout the summer when school was not in session. What better things to give out to keep both body and mind going.
Call it an attempt to combat a high dropout rate, a way to get the kids on the right track early, or whatever you want. At the end of the day, these kids got recognition for doing well in school in an era where only those who come up short usually get the attention.