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New wheels: Budget de la Gente helps fund new bikes for Santa Clara Elementary club

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 20, 2024

Santa Clara Elementary School is nestled in the heart of Tucson's south side and has long fostered a love for cycling among its students.

Thanks to the dedication of Benjamin Duarte, the school's vice principal and founder of the Bike Club, children from third to sixth grade have been pedaling their way to both enjoyment and safety for over a decade.

Duarte's passion for cycling and his desire to impart crucial safety skills led to the inception of the Bike Club 12 years ago.

"I wanted to share my love for cycling with my students and wanted them to be safe," Duarte explained during an interview. "That's one of the things we've been really trying to do: get some new bikes for our kids to make sure that they're safe, that they are riding safely, that they can enjoy the ride instead of struggle with rusted chains or anything else."

Despite the club's success, its aging fleet of bikes was in dire need of replacement.

That's where the "Budget de la Gente" program came in. Santa Clara Elementary recently received a $5,000 grant from the initiative, spearheaded by Tucson's Ward 1, to purchase new bikes and ensure the club's sustainability.

Duarte emphasized the importance of safety education in the club's curriculum, something that's re-enforced when children in the club can use new, safer equipment.

"One of the things that I really want to make sure that our students know is the safety," Duarte said.

Students are taught not only how to ride bikes but also critical safety protocols, including checking brakes, adjusting seats, and understanding road rules.

The impact of the Bike Club extends beyond the school gates, preparing students for a lifetime of safe cycling.

Duarte highlighted the club's participation in events like the Tour de Tucson, where students witness responsible cycling practices, and professional competition, firsthand.

With plans to acquire new bikes by the next school year, Duarte envisions a future where students can focus on enjoying the ride, rather than wrestling with maintenance issues.

As for the future, Duarte expressed interest in engaging with the Budget de la Gente program again, ensuring that Santa Clara Elementary continues to prioritize the safety and joy of biking for its students.

WATCH MORE: Budget De La Gente: Ward 1 program empowers residents in budget process

Budget De La Gente: Ward 1 program empowers residents in budget process

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Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at edward.celaya@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.