Five youngsters got their first Christmas present yesterday thanks to the hard work of prison inmates.
Members of the Lifeline group at Westgate prison gave the primary school pupils refurbished bicycles at a special ceremony.
Phillip Bradshaw, Kenneth Burgess, David DeSilva, Jay Dill and Victor Roberts handed over the good-as-new cycles to the children in Dockyard.
Mr Roberts, one of the founders of the bike scheme, said handing over the bikes gave him goosebumps.
He added: “I love to see the expression on the children’s faces.
“It uplifts me knowing that I am giving something to somebody who really appreciates it and really loves it.”
Mr Roberts said the bike scheme was not an attempt to get reduced sentences.
He added: “We look at it as we’re giving back and we’re helping.
“We’re doing this from our hearts, we’re helping children who are coming up and we don’t want them to make the mistakes we’ve made.”
Mr Roberts said a presentation to a young girl last year had hit him hard.
He said: “She had a little pink dress on, and we had the pink bike there that was the exact colour of her dress.”
Mr Roberts said the child had never owned a bike and had always wanted a pink one.
He admitted: “I’m a big man and I had to turn away because I had a tear coming.
“That’s the excitement.”
The bikes were gifted to N’Maii Hill, 8, from Port Royal Primary, Kennicko Jones-Russell, 10, from Gilbert Institute, Yari Mello, 10, from East End Primary, Cavon Nisbett, 10, from Purvis Primary and D’Nahje’ Tavares-Richardson, 7, from Heron Bay Primary.
Yari said he was “really, really excited” when he found out he had been selected.
He said: “I told all of my friends, I told all my classmates, and my brothers.”
Yari added that he had already planned a route near Clearwater Beach for his first ride on his gleaming red bike.
Julie Foggo, East End Primary principal, said it was the second time the school had been selected to participate in the programme.
She described Yari as a “student of excellence”.
She added: “By chance, we found out that Yari’s bike had just recently broken down.
“He is so appreciative of this and he has thanked me profusely over and over.
“He was meant to have this bike.”
Commissioner of Corrections Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb said: “The true value of it is when you look at the faces of these young children when they receive a bike.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful experience.“
Colonel Lamb added the bicycle programme, now in its fifth year, was “fantastic”.
He said: “In corrections, we often preach and practice this whole notion that inmates ought to be given the opportunity to redeem themselves.
“This is a real, tangible way that inmates can give something back to the community.”
Colonel Lamb said that most of the work involved, including the selection of schools, is done by the inmates.
He added: “Our role is just to facilitate it. They’ve done everything.”
Gina Ingham, volunteer coordinator, said the initiative was the “perfect example of restorative justice”.
She explained: “It’s them giving back to the community.”
Prisoners salvaged and cleaned the bikes and supplied Ms Ingham with a list of needed parts.
All the work was carried out in the prison workshop.
Ms Ingham said Front Street bike shop Winners Edge had been “awesome” in helping to make the programme possible.