2017-10-06 / Front Page

CBC helps Biddeford teen grow

Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The Community Bicycle Center has a knack for helping children blossom in a variety of ways. Fourteen-year-old Steven Thurlow of Biddeford is yet another shining example of the establishment's mission.

Founded 16-years ago, the CBC, located on Granite Street, aims to enrich the lives and challenge the minds of children across Biddeford. The center uses bike-related activities and several age-based programs to obtain these results with the kids who come through their doors.

Thurlow came through the CBC doors three years ago. He’s been part of the Kids Bike Factory — a job readiness program where kids run a bike repair shop — for about a year, and was recently hired as a youth assistant within the program.

Prior to his start at the CBC, Thurlow said he wasn’t overly into bicycling or bicycle culture. Since then, his interest in bikes has taken off, though he explained that before working on bikes at the CBC he’d always been very mechanical.

“There were times where I’d get in trouble with my parents because they’d give me a toy and a day later they’d find it disassembled and built into something else,” Thurlow said. “They’d be like, ‘Why did you do that?’ and I’d just tell them, ‘It’s alright I can put it back to what it used to be.’”

Now, repairing bikes comes easy for Thurlow, but it took time, he said. He found himself slightly overwhelmed when he first joined in the operations at the CBC, but with the help of others —like Matt Perkins, a CBC alum who recently left for college — he quickly gained the skills necessary to find a bike's problem, identify the parts needed and make the necessary repairs.

At this point he’s fixed, and pieced together, over 20 bikes.

“If someone were to bring in a bike I’d be able to look at it, see what the problem with it is, and have it repaired with a time estimate,” Thurlow said.

Despite having an abundance of talented kids with a knack for fixing bikes, the center does not fix bikes on request. Bikes are donated to the center for the educational benefit of the children in CBC programs, according to Community Outreach Coordinator at the CBC Cliff Oliver.

Aside from growing his mechanical skill set, Thurlow said he has evolved emotionally and built up tremendous confidence though attending programs at and working for the CBC.

Thurlow’s still one of the younger members of the Kids Bike Factory, which typically enrolls older teens, but given his plethora of knowledge regarding the mechanics of bikes, he has been seen as a leader at the CBC.

“It’s weird to consider,” Thurlow said. “Kids older than me have started to ask for my help with things, but I don’t know. Maybe I am one of the leaders and I just don’t realize it.”

More than anyone else, the 14-year old says bursting out of his comfort zone has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of his three years at the CBC.

“Before I came here I was very shy, I wouldn’t talk to anyone. If you told me three years ago I’d be doing an interview today I’d be like, ‘what?’” Thurlow said. “But now I’m excited about things like this, and I always talking here.”

Soon Thurlow will be working on his resume at CBC — one of the career building elements at the center. He added that he wants to be a biomedical engineer, because of his interest in medicine and engineering, but if that doesn’t pan out, naturally, he’d like to be a car or bike mechanic.

“Either way, I know I’ll end up happy.”

— Staff Writer Ryder Schumacher can be reached at 282-1535, or via email at rschumacher@journaltribune.com. 










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