About 20 bicyclists stopped in Normal overnight on the way from Chicago to Springfield, hoping to convince lawmakers to restore funding for social service programs.
The employees and volunteers with the organization Bikes 'N Roses hope the General Assembly and the governor will restore the bulk of the $250,000 cut from their budget. Bikes 'N Roses puts at-risk youth to work fixing bikes on Chicago's west side.
Anna-Lisa Castle is development director for Communities United, the parent organization for Bikes 'N Roses. She said the group is concerned $8.5 billion is spent on an incarceration system of courts, policing, prisons while vital resources are suspended.
"Our youth are asking elected officials to release emergency funds for youth programming, and in the long-term shift priorities away from locking people up and into resources that actually prevent crime in the long-term and really keep our communities healthy," said Castle.
The Bikes 'N Roses advocates are traveling a total of 210 miles over three days. Castle says the organization will employee about 82 youth this summer. She said, in addition to gaining an income, the kids learn about time management, how to manage money and being responsible.
That's important to Bikes 'N Roses worker Lizeth Romero, who said the opportunities provided by the not-for-profit bike shop go beyond building technical skills.
"Having these social services for us actually is like a second home to us, helping us out with all those skills and how to be able to organize ourselves for our futures," Romero said. This is the second year the group has pedaled to Springfield to lobby lawmakers.