Elves & More works to keep children in school by providing them with their own transport

A charity in Houston will this year give away its 135,000th free bicycle to an underprivileged child in the local area.

Elves & More aims to help vulnerable children stay in school through giving them bikes, which allow them to get to classes and activities.

To earn a bicycle, a child must first enter into a contract with his or her teacher or school.

That contract requires each child to meet at least one of five criteria:

  • attend school regularly, and be on time
  • behave well in class
  • attend tutoring classes or Saturday school where necessary
  • improve their grades in one or more areas or
  • whatever else the teacher believes a particular child needs to improve upon.

Once the teacher determines that a child has met the terms of the Contract, the child is rewarded with a new bicycle.

The charity says: "Bicycles give children the two wheels they need to get out of the neighborhood and go to places where caring adults can become their mentors and role models."

They say that the work helps reduce the dropout rate and improves the likelihood that children will graduate from high school, reduces the likelihood that children will waste their lives through drugs and crime,  and that children's health and fitness improve.

The programme has been running since 2000, and gives away gifts, mostly bikes, to 25,000 underprivileged children each year.

To find out how you can help their work, click here.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.