Sunday, December 23, 2001

Robert Charette, left, and David Dey were part of a class of Radford High students who fixed up bikes and donated them to community organizations. This batch was dropped off Tuesday at Holy Family Church.

Bike work helps
kids work on lives

Radford High School offers a
program that helps at-risk kids
turn their lives around

By Crystal Kua

Living in the projects of Louisiana, David Dey believed that people didn't care about each other, an attitude he brought with him when he moved to Hawaii two years ago.

Now a senior at Radford High School, Dey beamed with pride this past week as he saw the bicycles he worked on and repaired with his hands about to be delivered to kids in need.

"Cause I know how it is growing up in the ghetto, some kids can't afford bikes. This is an opportunity to give them something they never had," the 18-year-old Dey said.

But the Christmas spirit has touched Dey, who was at-risk of failing school, in more than one way.

"Dave Dey made a 180-degree turn on his attitude with the staff, with the teachers, his attendance, everything," said Radford teacher assistant Earl Robertson, Dey's mechanic mentor.

His transformation away from a bah-humbug attitude can be attributed to Radford's Academic and Motivation Program, or RAMP, in association with the non-profit Saturday Enrichment in the Park Foundation.

As part of the special motivation program, nearly three dozen at-risk and special education students help to refurbish old, wrecked bicycles donated by Hickam Air Force Base and other community organizations.

"They learned how to repair tires, learn about different sizes of bikes. We incorporated math and science with measurements, air pressure," Robertson said.

"The bicycle is easy because it's visual."

Dey adds, "You've got to know which wrench you need, you've got to know socket size, how much oil you're going to put on there."

"Kids see that education is not only reading, writing and arithmetic," Radford vice principal Etuale Suafoa said.

RAMP is patterned after a similar program at Waialua High School. Besides the bikes, the supplies to fix them are also donated.

It's helped other students, like senior Robert Charette, also pedal a different route.

"He was rotten last year," Suafoa said of Charette. "He had a real bad attitude, failing everything."

Charette said he was bored with school.

"We go to class, we bust out my books, do our homework. I do my homework and everything, but it was no fun," said Charette who likes to fix things and work with electronics. "I'm horrible with books but give me a PC, I'll fix it."

As a result of working with Robertson and computer teacher assistant Lani Ho, Charette's attitude and grades began to improve dramatically, Suafoa said.

"He sees that there are other ways of learning instead of through the pen and pencil, which really turns off a lot of kids," Suafoa said

On Tuesday, the students, their teacher assistants and Suafoa delivered 13 bikes to Holy Family Church, which will distribute them to organizations on the Leeward coast that help disadvantaged children.

From four-wheelers to off-road models, children from 4 to 15 years old will benefit from the work of these Radford high school students who had been on the wrong road.

"I feel great," Dey said.

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