SAN ANTONIO – From the classroom to the roadway, these students at the Burleson Center on the West Side are learning skills that will shape their future.
KSAT first visited the Burleson Center for Innovation and Education in October.
The center, which is part of the Edgewood Independent School District, helps students who are 18 to 21 years old and have special needs get work skills and training that can lead to employment and independent living.
It continues to expand, and for the second year, features a bike repair and maintenance shop named Dos Calles Bike Shop. San Antonio police Officer Steven Bazany helps teach the class.
“Last year, we did great. We had a great six months of just learning and joking around with the guys, and they all took their bikes home,” Bazany said. “Then they came back this year and said, ‘Hey can we repeat that program because all the kids want to get in.’”
Bazany is the bicycle coordinator for the San Antonio Police Department and has worked with and been around bicycles for years.
Being able to teach these young men how to repair and maintain a bike means teaching them independence, as well.
“This is probably going to be their only mode of transportation other than VIA or someone else giving them a ride,” Bazany said. “This gives them an opportunity to be independent. They are not having to rely on anybody. They can rely on themselves.”
Bazany jokes around and laughs with the group. They are eager to learn, get their hands dirty and get to work.
Sarah Minner, program specialist at the Burleson Center, said Dos Calles has grown enough to help the students in various ways.
“Aside from their joy, they are happy,” Minner said. “They love doing it and, in addition to that, is their self-confidence, the knowledge and skills they are taking away from it.”
Aside from all the fun in the classroom, Bazany wants to show these students another side of a law enforcement officer.
Bazany said that, for many of these students, their only contact or exposure with law enforcement officers is due to a negative situation.
“How do you get a good picture of people when all you see is in the bad situation?” Bazany said. “They’re getting real used to dealing with me, getting to see police officers in a different light.”
The ultimate goal of the class is to get bikes back on the road, and build skills and friendships that will last a lifetime.
“It’s really a cool way of interacting with these young men," Bazany said. "They are really special people. Not just because of their talents, but because of their personalities and the way they see life.”