Nowadays, Lamont, an outgoing senior at Eric Solario Academy High School in Chicago, is a hard man to find. His passions take him in many directions – from studies at the school library, to practice with the basketball and football teams, as well as laps with the track team. Anything to keep active, to keep moving forward, keep learning new things and meeting new people. So when a new program came to the high school offering kids the opportunity to learn to how to build bikes and develop gardens, school staff knew he was a good fit.
On the bike, in the garden
“I’m really into the environment and biking helps you save money on transportation while you get exercise,” he says. “And I can make some money by knowing how to grow food and fix the bikes!”
a healthy lifestyle
The program, known as GreenCorps, is a partnership between Heartland Alliance, the City of Chicago, and local schools to encourage healthy, active lifestyle in Chicago youth. Kids learn how to plan, construct, cultivate, and harvest a garden, as well as how to build and fix bicycles. The food they grow goes to programs within the school serving students with disabilities, while the students themselves are able to keep the bikes. With their knowledge, the kids are able to build gardens within their communities and use their new bikes to save money on transportation while living a healthier lifestyle.
the best advice
Lamont’s excitement about the work is contagious. Already a number of his friends have joined him in his more active lifestyle, with Lamont helping them fix up their bikes to get started. The program has given him more than a bike or a green thumb. He’s learned lessons he knows he couldn’t have learned any other way.
“The most important thing I learned is to be focused, have a smile and never make fun of other people,” Lamont says. “Hold yourself up to high standards. That’s the best advice anyone gave me and I learned that’s really true and I want to follow that. I’m the first in my family that’s going to college – I’m going to study physical therapy. I’m proud of that.”
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