Welcome to Charlie's Freewheels!
What we do:
We believe that having access to a bicycle profoundly impacts the lives of youth. We have observed that bikes have the capacity to liberate their riders, exposing them to new opportunities and giving them the ability to take charge of their own transportation.
Charlie’s FreeWheels is a program created in the memory of Charles Prinsep. Charlie loved building his own bikes and he used them to explore every nook and cranny of the city. We have a mission to celebrate Charlie’s memory. Our mandate is to empower youth by giving them the skills to build an maintain their own bicycles. We aim to mobilize youth with no cost to them but sweat and time.
Our core programming, Charlie's Freewheels, provides training in basic bicycle maintenance for youth in the Regent / Moss Park community of Toronto. Our ten-week program teaches mechanic skills to youth through the process of refurbishing a used bike. At the end of the program these youth will be given the bike they worked on along with a lights, a lock and helmet. In addition, they will be taught safety skills by a CAN-Bike certified safety instructor. Following graduation youth have skills to maintain their bikes and are encouraged to stay connected with Charlie’s and make use of our resources and additional teaching. Drop-in hours are a way that we stay connected with interested youth.
After graduation, we connect aim to connect youth interested in further mechanic training with paid internship opportunities. Beyond mechanics, we encourage our graduates remain involved with the organization. Youth play an important role developing and refining our programs.
- Since 2009 over a hundred bikes have been built through are programming.
- We have provided over 4000 hours of bicycle education to youth in the Regent / Moss Park community.
- Youth graduates continue to return to the shop to participate in drop-in hours.
- 8 youth have earned paid employment through Charlie’s FreeWheels and Charlie’s Bike Joint.
- A large number of our participants remain involved with bike mechanics after they finish our structure build-a-bike program.
- Youth have been active in participatory research to map their community and discuss the unique cycling safety and infrastructure concerns through the “Mobilized FreeWheelers: project.