FreeWheelers’ Stories

Azam Abowath

Before joining the Board of Directors, Azam Abowath wrote an entry on the blog on It has been included in this proposal because it illustrates the personal importance of having a bicycle to ride, as well as the impact that valuable work experience has meant for him.

“… It’ll be three full years this coming summer since I built my bike. Sure, it was a useless-looking piece of frame, but it became a very useful tool in my life. As a student, and human being in general, I like saving money, which is why I’m extremely grateful as to how much Charlie’s Freewheels helped me in this regard, and this isn’t the only way that they have helped me.

Yes, I have a sustainable, cheap, form of transportation which I enjoy using. It gets me from point A-B very quickly.

I have saved a lot of time and money going to and coming back from class. Either I would spend $3, and a lot of time waiting for the TTC, walk for about thirty minutes, or bike for ten minutes. Biking would win every time.

As for how else they have helped me? Well, I’m here now, doing something I enjoy. I went from being a fairly quiet and shy individual, to not as quiet and shy of an individual. The Charlie’s Freewheels program showed me that it’s okay to take chances, and in fact it’s encouraged, because you never know what opportunities are waiting behind the door. I’ve gain so much experience, that I’m able to write down “Shop Administrator” and “Web Administrator” on my resume. They took chances with me, something that very few people would do.

I get compliments about the experience that I have on my resume, but the fact is, if CFW wasn’t there, where would I have gotten it?

How would you help a youth with that, just by donating a bike? You’ll be apart of the process. You can say you’ll be taking on a sort of Batman-esque or superhero persona where people wouldn’t know who helped them. Heck, I don’t know who donated my bike, the beauty that it has been rebuilt in to, but I still thank them.”

– Azam Abowath on


Javante Barker

Javante became involved in Charlie’s FreeWheels in January of 2012. Javante was hired on in the summer of 2012 as a Youth Leader and then gained further part time employment as Volunteer Coordinator through funding from the Careers Foundation.  Javante was part of the group of five youth who went to City Hall to make a deputation about cuts to Youth Recreation Services (he was also one of the five who got too nervous to speak!).


Jessica Julian

Jessica came to Charlie’s for the Mobilized FreeWheelers program in August of 2012. Jessica has since banked over 150 hours of volunteer time with Charlie’s FreeWheels, and has most recently made a presentation at the Urban Space Gallery with Jolina Nguyen about the importance of bicycles for youth.

“Before I came to Charlies I did not own a bike. I had no idea how to build a bike, and I couldn’t ride a bike. This program taught me how to build and safely ride a bike. Charlie’s has made a huge difference in my day to day life by providing me eco-friendly transportation that I will use for the rest of my life.

After I finished building my bike (with a lot of assistance of course) and learning how to ride safely on the road. I went for my very first bike ride on the road. I went for my ride on my own to the beach, and I got to ride on the don Valley trail. When I had completed my journey via biking I felt accomplished with myself thanks to the Charlies Bike program.”


Ben Waitzer

Ben was another youth who became involved with Charlie’s in 2012. He also spoke on behalf of Charlie’s at the gallery event.

My name’s Ben Waitzer and in my humble opinion, Charlie’s is the bomb. I walked by the store the day my bike got stolen and was thrilled to find out about the program. Little did i know how much of a treat i was in for. Not only did i get a new bike, i gained skills, and community as well. There is much to be said for a homecooked meal with friends! Finally, i was really impressed with the staff. They all have their own unique, and highly effective, way of dealing with us punks. Charlie’s definitely empowered me in many ways, as I’m sure it will others.


Jessica Huynh

“Having my own bike would bring a lot of great change to my lifestyle… I won’t have to depend on the streetcar to get to school on time and Ill be guilt free while riding my bike because I won’t be contributing to global warming! I don’t know many people who have built their own bike and this experience has been truly empowering! I can’t wait to start my “new life” with my bike and get out of the house more.”


Emman Haider

Having a bike will really impact my health and exercise routine. I feel like being physically active on a daily basis and getting a lot of physical activity is important to me as a 16 year old. With my new bike that I built at Charlie’s FreeWheels I can go out with my friends to ride around and explore different bike trails around the city and to just go to everyday places. Even just by using the bike to travel from one place to another will add up to a lot of exersize, which will help me keep healthy. Having a bike will also help me explore my city and my neighborhood. Even though I go around the city a lot, I strongly feel that going out on a bike will be a different because, for example, I will be paying more attention to what’s around me for safety reasons, instead of being on my phone (which I usually do when on TTC).


Timothy Calupig

“ Through my time at Charlie’s I have built new skills and new found friends that have help me be a better biker. The first few weeks consisted of building a bike, which proves to be helpful when fixing it or even cleaning it. Though I knew my way around the City of Toronto, Charlies Program and staff have offered me more useful techniques to guiding myself. In many ways, Charlie’s Freewheels has revolutionized my life and forever thankful.”