Adult Education student with his bicycleMany might think a bicycle is a leisurely mode of transportation from childhood, or as adults, a tool used for exercise. But for students in Colby Community College adult education classes, a bike can be a means for changing lives.

Instructors noticed a transportation need during classes with CCC adult education financial literacy students at the Hays location. If those without a vehicle are unable to walk to their destination, they rely on friends and relatives or pay for public transportation and taxi services. Depending on the schedules of others often creates challenges to consistently arrive at work on time, attend required community corrections officer meetings, go to the grocery store for necessities, or spend time with family and friends.

Adult Education director Nance Munderloh and her staff discussed solutions.

"While working at the Norton Correctional Facility, we became aware of the Wheels for the World project that refurbishes bikes and provides them to those who will benefit, children and adults alike," she said.

Instructors visited with Northwest Kansas Community Corrections Director Erin Geist about having bikes available for clients. From that discussion came a collaboration between Colby Community College Adult Education, Northwest Kansas Community Corrections (NWKCC), Norton Correctional Facility Wheels for the World, and KansasWorks in Hays. The partners identify appropriate candidates who work hard to progress in the classroom and meet their corrections requirements. Then they evaluate the students' work, personal needs, and available resources before determining who should receive a bike. To date, bikes have been provided to 10 students.

Noel Morales said his bike made an impact on his financial situation.

"I figured out that it saves me a minimum of $10 per day, for sure $300 a month. That is a lot," he said. "Now I have a bit of savings to fall back on."

Aside from the monetary benefits of the bike, Morales said he also has control of his life.

"I am able to plan my day and be independent. I have more options. Besides work, I can go to the store, my required meetings, and places I like to go for myself, like the park. I am proud to ride the bike and usually have front-row parking! This has been such a blessing in my life. The people here have cared about me and given me opportunities and help. I am so grateful."

Morales observed the staff has been there to assist him and help make life better, and the key was him wanting to take their direction and put forth the effort to change.

Another bike recipient saves money that she previously spent on cabs and will eventually purchase a vehicle. She is excited at the thought of reaching her goal and returning the bike so another student can benefit.

Munderloh believes the cooperation between local and state organizations to acquire bikes underscores the purpose of why each entity exists.

"Colby Community College Adult Education is privileged to have partners who care and work together to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve."