When Johnny Yang found out he could earn a new bike if he became one of the top readers at the Pinedale Boys & Girls Club, he immersed himself in books.
Carissa Molina, the club’s program assistant, said Yang, a first-grade student at Pinedale Elementary School, had a great work ethic.
“When he found out that he could actually get a bike for reading, he sat down and read two books in one day,” Molina said, adding that throughout the process Yang “learned when you actually put the effort in, you can get something good out of it.”
When Yang started reading his first book, however, he struggled and asked Molina for help.
A Determined Reader
Every day for nearly two months, Molina and Yang would read together at her desk from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pinedale Boys & Girls Club.
Molina said Yang also enrolled in a reading program at Barnes & Noble and would practice his reading there after he left the club.
Out of all the books he read, Yang said his favorites were “The Very Busy Spider,” and “10 Little Rubber Ducks.”
Molina said Yang is thrilled about being a top reader and eager about receiving his first bike.
“Every time a boy shows up with a bike, [Yang] asks, ‘is that my bike, is that my bike?'” Molina said, adding, “I can tell he is really excited.”
Brothers Were Motivation
Yang said his biggest inspiration for wanting a bike so bad is so he can join his brothers in their daily bike rides around the neighborhood.
“I really want to go riding with my brothers around the block,” Yang said.
Summer Learning Focus
Yang is one of over 125 students who participated in Granville Homes’ 10th annual Books for Bikes summer reading program. (Granville Homes is the parent company of GW Wire.)
The program is a partnership with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County and is designed to keep education top of mind for children in the community during the summer months.
The Fresno-based home builder has donated 125 bicycles, helmets and locks to the top performers in the Books for Bikes program. Rubber Soul Bicycles generously donated its time to assemble all of the bikes.
Bikes Awarded in Special Ceremony
The bikes were awarded at the Zimmerman Boys & Girls Club in Southeast Fresno.
Fifth-grade student Joshua House said he couldn’t wait to take his bike out for a ride.
“The places I want to go with my bike are the places that I couldn’t go without my bike,” House said, adding that those places are his cousin’s house and to school.
Before the bikes were distributed to the kids, two officers with the Fresno Police Department conducted a demonstration on how to properly put on a helmet and answered questions on safety rules when riding a bike on the road.
The Books for Bikes summer program kicked off in June, and youth between the ages of 6 and 18 were able to sign up and participate in daily creative reading activities. The Boys & Girls Clubs identified the top readers of the program using a point system for the number of books read, chapters read, daily attendance and participation.
Education and Health Are Top Priorities
As a community partner with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, Granville Homes aims to always engage youth to participate in educational and health-related activities.
“Our goal is to inspire kids to read more books because it’s a part of the education process, and we know education transforms lives,” said Granville Homes President Darius Assemi.
Granville Homes has distributed nearly 3,000 bicycles to the top readers from 17 chapters of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County since the program started in 2009.
Beneficial To The Community
Sandra Chaney, the director of community relations, marketing and special events for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County, said programs like Books for Bikes are a blessing.
“Partners like Granville Homes and other partners here in the community that are connected to our children and our future is a wonderful thing,” Chaney said.
Chaney said her favorite thing about the program is how it keeps kids out of trouble and continuing their educational journey out of school.
“Kids can be out doing bad things, but they chose to be a part of something great,” Chaney said.
Now that the program is over for this year, Molina said her goal is to get students to keep on reading.
“Reading is a ‘have to’ kind of thing, it is one of those things they don’t want to do,” Molina said. “I definitely want to encourage them to read more and not make it something that has to be done just for homework.”
Before the start of this year’s program, Molina said Yang was reading at a pre-school level and is now reading at a first-grade level.
Overall, Molina said the program was a lot of fun for the kids, especially since there was a lot of competition.
“Johnny and his friend were neck and neck on which one could get to the 10 books first,” Molina said, adding that making the program competitive is what made it “a lot of fun and more interesting for them.”