Over 8,000 children in the Houston area have new bicycles this Christmas thanks to their success in reading this semester. This story aired on PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday, December 20. PBS NewsHour Weekend airs Saturdays and Sundays at 6 p.m. on TV 8.
Elves & More works with several school districts around Greater Houston. They focus on improving students’ literacy. First, students sign a contract promising to meet certain goals like behaving well in school or improving their reading level. If they succeed, Elves & More rewards them with a new bicycle.
“We go into the kindergarteners through third grade,” says Rebecca Roberts with Elves & More. “Every teacher takes every individual student and looks at where they are at the beginning of the semester, and then they set an achievable but slightly difficult goal.”
Domingo Garcia is a counselor at Bush Elementary, one of the schools Elves & More is working with. He says having a new bike to work toward motivates students throughout the school year.
“I have several parents saying thank you for giving the kids this opportunity,” he says. “It’s just fun to be able to tell the parents, look, this isn’t a gift. We’re not giving it to them. They earned it, so they deserve it.”
Elves & More will deliver the bicycles to the schools where students will come pick them up. This year, the group is expected to give away about 8,000 bicycles.