Donated bikes program helps inmates, kids in Dallas County

- In a unique partnership, donated bicycles are helping both inmates and kids in Dallas County.

It is said that life is a lot like a bicycle: to keep your balance, you have to keep moving. A program at the Dallas County jail is helping both inmates and students do just that.

Locked up inside four walls, life can feel isolated.

“Historically, in jails, all ethnicities stick together. Once they get into this classroom, those barriers are left out there,” said Yolanda Lara-Reyna, director of Inmate Programs. “When they are in here, they work together. They see someone struggling with a piece or a part. They're like, ‘Hey, try this one. This piece on that.’”

What started as a donation from the Richardson Bike Mart turned into a way for inmates to build bikes while breaking down barriers.

“Before the program, I would never talk to him,” said inmate Preston Sheffield. “Now, we're actually good friends.”

“Once we get in here, we connect,” said inmate Andres Garcia. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff from other inmates. Great knowing these bikes are going to kids and I was a part of it.”

Outreach Officer Velma Edwards with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office says learning teamwork is only the start.

“A lot of them take a lot of pride in what they're doing,” she said. “And when they get out, they'll say ‘I did this.’”

Friday morning, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown presented the bicycles to kids at Dade Middle School.

“It's a benefit for us all the way around,” the sheriff said.

“I would like to thank them and hope they go far in life when they get out,” said seventh-grader Laray Hudson.

“I think it's a good thing,” said eighth-grader Jaylen Mitchell. “Everyone in the neighborhood wants a bike, but not everyone is blessed enough to have a bike.”

Almost 90 bicycles have been donated to Dallas students so far. The bicycles are also given to some inmates when they are released.                

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