Bike Giveaway Brings Joy for Kids at Quigg Newton

By Allen Cowgill

Over two SUNI Sippers this summer, Elizabeth Morales was on the hunt for community members who wanted to get involved and make a positive impact through micro grants.

The happy hour events for the Sunnyside United Neighbors Incorporated (SUNI), the registered neighborhood organization for Sunnyside, were opportunities for her to engage community members. Morales works for the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Community Active Living Coalition (CALC). She describes their mission in a few words as to “make it safer, easier, more fun, and equitable to physically move our bodies in Denver.”

Morales is part of one of the three CALC teams in Denver assigned to neighborhoods. The team she works on is assigned to Northwest Denver, whose focus is on the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Chaffee Park, where Morales also has family ties with relatives living in the neighborhood.

Over a meeting in August, Morales and several members of the community that expressed interest at the happy hours came together to brainstorm ideas on how they could make a difference in the community and get kids moving, especially in the Quigg Newton area of Sunnyside, a public housing development.

Members of the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Community Active Living Coalition and volunteers gathered at a recent bicycle giveaway. Photo by Allen Cowgill

The group discussed having a community bike ride that was kid friendly, but quickly realized that many kids didn’t have access to bikes. Not only that, but many kids didn’t use their bikes to go places in the neighborhood, because there was a fear that they might be stolen. By the end of the micro grant meeting, SUNI President Trupti Suthar volunteered to apply for a micro grant on behalf of the RNO, along with New Beginnings Ministry, a local church.

The groups decided to focus their grant applications on getting new bikes, bike helmets, and locks to donate to kids in the neighborhood. CALC awards micro grants of up to $400 for individuals, and up to $1,500 for organizations. Neighborhoods in the CALC focus areas are typically given preference, but any Denver resident or organization can apply if they have an idea. CALC team members will even help residents with the microgrant application process at local libraries or rec centers if the applicant does not have access to a computer or the internet.

The CALC focus on the Sunnyside and Chaffee park neighborhoods was due to both of them being areas of greater need on the equity index for DOTI. Morales described that CALC tries to empower the community to make change for themselves. They want to be the device that makes it happen. One of her team’s roles is to get to know folks and make it a little bit easier to replace one car trip or make it easier for folks without a car.

The two grants were ultimately awarded by CALC, and SUNI and New Beginnings got to work purchasing supplies for a bike giveaway event to be held in October next to the Aztlan Recreation Center. Morales helped coordinate with the groups, and also connected with other community members to help maximize the effort. Local bike shop SloHi Bike Company helped get the bikes and locks at cost. Embark, a micro middle school that partners with local bike shop Framework Cycles, also had three bikes that were available to be donated.

Morales also got staff members from the Aztlan Rec Center as well as the Denver Dream Center, two teams that are connected in the community, to be at the event. She also went to a local residents meeting at Quigg Newton to get their feedback, and found out that lots of kids had bikes that weren’t in good repair. Morales again connected with local bike shops SloHi Bike Company and Framework Cycles, and they had staff come to the event to repair bicycles for free all day. Word spread in the neighborhood that the bike giveaway was going to happen, and on the day of the event, kids came out early with excitement. There was food from local favorites Pochito Tortilla Factory and Tamales by La Casita.

The giveaway included 62 bike locks, dozens of bike helmets (that were properly fitted by volunteers), numerous bike accessories, and 11 bicycles. Team members from SloHi Bike Company and Framework Cycles spent the entire day not only repairing bikes, but also teaching neighborhood kids how to repair bikes on their own.

“People were very excited, they immediately started doing test rides,” Morales said. “It was really exciting, one of the kids said that all of her siblings had bikes, and she didn’t. They wouldn’t let her borrow their bikes because they were theirs, and now she finally had a bike.”

She spent all day with a huge smile on her face.

“It just felt like the reason we were there was to make people happy, and to fill a need,” she said. “Even if a kid just thinks, ‘I have a bike,’ that is super fun, a bike can be such a tool for freedom for autonomy, I just loved seeing their faces light up.”

Any Denver resident interested in applying for a CALC micro-grant can learn more at:


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