Making Awesome Changes: 'Roll Models' bike program

SAN ANTONIO – KSAT is teaming up with the UT Health Science Center and Salud America to bring you a new series called Making Awesome Changes, showcasing groups and people in San Antonio who are trying to do something about childhood obesity.

Getting kids to go outside and be active may be a challenge at times. But for Dante Jones, riding a bike with the kids at the Frank Garrett Community Center is about more than just going for a ride.

"The Roll Models Leadership Program was founded on four tenants: respect, obedience, love and leadership," Jones said. "We teach life skills and life lessons to youth ages 5-18 founded around that."

Jones said he came up with the idea in 2010 when he was riding bikes with his daughter in the Lincoln Heights Courts, on San Antonio's West Side.

"We'd be riding around on her bikes and several other kids would just come out and either run alongside us or ride with us," Jones said. "It became obvious that their fathers weren't around so I wanted to do something about that."

Jones connected with the group Urban Connection and the Roll Models program was born. It started at the Frank Garrett Community Center in 2010 and has grown.

Jones said about 300 kids have gone through the program and have taken part in events like Siclovia on a regular basis.

"That's become our rite of passage, if you will, because it's a 14-mile round trip," Jones said. "You get 20 kids out on bikes and there are several things that can happen along the way and that's where those life lessons and life skills come in."

Jones said there are several traits that he's picked up through my years in San Antonio.

"I've taught them leather tooling, basic electronics and bicycle maintenance," he said. "With those things, I hope they choose those instead of choosing gangs, selling drugs, things of that nature."

The Roll Models program has since started working with the San Antonio Housing Authority to create a program to get children and other residents active. Jones said the group plans monthly rides at different locations.

"We'll generally pick a SAHA property and gather there and ride from there to a different location in San Antonio," Jones said. "We've been to the Witte Museum. We've done the Mission Trail.  We've been on the greenway a few different times, just to get the kids out of the neighborhood and seeing something different. It's been truly amazing discussing places that they would like to go. We passed the Children's Museum on the last ride. They mentioned I'd love to take a ride to the Children's Museum. That has now been placed into our plan. We also take a night ride at Christmas time."

He said parents seem to love the program.

"They definitely prefer for their kids to be more active," Jones said. "They take interest in it.  In fact, we have had parents come along on the rides.  We've had entire families come out, five or more, come out and join rides. That's when it truly feels right."

Jones will retire from the military later this year and hopes to grow the program more. He said once it is a staple of the West Side, he would like to try and grow the program on San Antonio's East Side.

The group's next big ride is March 14. Jones said riders will be joined by other groups to ride along the West Side and plant water gardens and butterfly gardens. The ride begins at 9 a.m. at the Frank Garrett Community Center.

Roll Model Creed

I am a roll model.

I am a revolutionary.

I control my thoughts, actions and emotions.

I model respect, obedience, love and leadership.

I can do anything.

I possess riches that can never be taken away.

I am a roll model.

I am a revolutionary.

I am the revolution.

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