OLATHE, Kan. — When it comes to bikes, there’s a certain kind of love these Olathe North High School students have for them.
“We used to go down the hill as fast as we can... We'd get scraped all over the place but it was fun,” senior, Ismael Elizalde said.
The students are part of the Hispanic Leadership Council’s Low Riders Club.
“Low rider bikes were kind of like a luxury back in the day and over the years, they got like a bad connotation with like gang violence and stuff like that and what this club is trying to do is eliminate that bad connotation,” junior, Carolina Paramo said.
The group works with its community partners, both the Chamber of Commerce and the Olathe Police Department.
Students in the group design their own custom low rider bikes.
They also fix and repair donated or broken bicycles to give back to children in the community who need them.
“There's a lot of kids out there that would like to have a good bike, but sometimes they have a bike but it needs repair so we think it benefits the community around here to have them service the bike and just to give them,” Advisor, Erik Erazo said.
But right now, funding for equipment and space are limited.
“They're looking for a trailer, a 20-foot box trailer that they can work out of, they can put bikes in and the second need is just monetary,” Sgt. Logan Bonney with Olathe Police said.
That’s why the Chamber of Commerce’s program, Leadership Olathe, is working to help raise $25,000 for the club.
“When he first told us, we were hyped up, like what this is crazy,” Elizalde said with excitement.
Once enough funding and space are available, the club expects to impact even more in the community.
“Students are our future and we want to build them up and help them to succeed and this program is a great opportunity for them to succeed in life,” Bonney said.
With this effort, Olathe police and students in the low riders club said it’s a great way to continue to build a strong relationship between police and the young Hispanic community.
"A crisis is not the time to be building relationships, it's before that crisis and so as a police department we want to build that relationship with all segments of our population,” Bonney said.
“Learning to have a connection with them it can really change,” Paramo said. “Having those connections, it can impact your life.”
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