BY RODNEY MARGISON
Sixty-five local children put together their new bicycles, supplied by the Wheels & Wellness public health project, on Saturday, April 1, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington on South Lincoln Street. Bill Morrow, a nurse practitioner with Riley Physicians at IU Health in Bloomington, led the effort, which developed into a multi-organizational partnership that raised about $12,500 to purchase the bicycle kits.
“The idea was generated from a paper I did for a public health class while working on my B.S.N. degree last summer,” Morrow explains. He adds that he was inspired by a similar but smaller project that had taken place a couple of years ago at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Crestmont unit. “It developed from that beginning.”
Initial funding for the project came through a grant from IU Health Bloomington Hospital, individual donations from the employees at Riley Physicians and IU Health, and donations from the community. Finally, the Bloomington Hospital Foundation added a $5,000 matching grant to the project.
“We raised nearly enough to build 200 bikes,” Morrow says. Seventy-five bicycle kits were purchased initially and distributed—65 at the Saturday build and 10 to kids who could not make it that day.
About 30 volunteers from several local businesses and organizations assisted each child in assembling his or her own bicycle. The kids were then fitted with new helmets, provided by the Safety Program at IU Health, and sent out to the parking lot to test-ride the bikes.
“There will be more of these builds in the future,” Morrow concludes. “Our goal is to create a synergy in the community that will enhance the health of us all. It was a wonderful success and will springboard us to greater things in the community.”
View more of photographer Rodney Marigson’s photos of the event in this slideshow: