My grand son is grown up and and his Honda mini bike has sat in the back of my garage gathering dust for about fifteen years. So I donated his XR-80 to Oasis for Kids where it will be used by disadvantaged children who would not normally get a chance to ride a dirt bike. First it had to be fixed up. The gas in the tank had turned to a green slime and the air filter had turned to dust. The jets in carburetor were replaced and a new air filter was put in. Dave Duffin, who runs Oasis for Kids, took the bike apart, polished it up, put it back together, and got it running for his students.
First a little history: Back in the day Dave managed a motorcycle shop in the Bolinas Elementary School after a couple of the boys asked him to get one started as a kind of shop class. After getting the approval of the school board, Dave opened its new motorcycle shop in a shed that housed minibikes, tools, workbenches and engines. Students gravitated to the shop, where Dave taught the basics of motorcycle safety, ethics and personal responsibility as well as motorcycle repair.
There were field trips to to lean about current events and history. Some were to motorcycle races as well as trips to remote areas where the kids took turns riding through trails and hills in motorcycle parks such as the Carnegie Motorcycle Park near Livermore. Dave is a certified flight instructor and taught some of the Bolinas kids how to fly.
There were those in the community who loved the program, while others hated it. Three decades later, dozens of children who participated swear allegiance to Dave and credit him for their successes on motorcycles and in life. Many of the parents and Bolinas community members echo the sentiments.
Erika Zetti a former teacher and principle of Bolinas school really supported what Dave was doing. “I thought it was a blessing for the kids to get into the motorbikes,” Zetti recalled. “It was Dave who really kept them in school through the motorbikes. They were not just learning about motorcycles — but about whole attitudes and philosophies. He taught them values and was like a father to many of them.
“I supported him and the program. As a person, Dave was intelligent — structured in what he was doing. He is very knowledgeable about a lot of things. He would take the kids to motorcycle races and even later, after I retired, they would always send me a group picture,” Zetti said. See: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Spin-doctor-Motorcycle-enthusiast-uses-bikes-to-2808773.php
Many of his students have gone on to become computer technicians, lawyers or law-enforcement officers. One went on to become a top-ranked motorcycle racer. Others have become airline pilots — after receiving initial flight instruction from Dave.
When Dave started Oasis for Kids he had a vision of a motorcycle project that takes kids from the inner cities out to the desert. It would combine school, lessons on real life and a passion for motorcycles. Dave insists that the kids be polite to others and each other. He is very strict, well liked and respected by everyone.
The program has all the elements for success: being in the outdoors, experiencing the freedom and thrill of being on a motorcycle and the camaraderie that comes with working with other youngsters like themselves. There is an educational element, with students participating in astronomy lessons, wilderness survival, computers, geography, history, ecology, mechanics, food preparation, aviation, meteorology, current events and math.
The Oasis kids are also taken to professional races where they meet teams like KTM Red Bull and Roger DeCoster. They are taken to local air shows and sometimes taken up and taught to fly.
The children of former students who were in his shop class at Bolinas School have participated in Oasis for Kids, and several different generations have benefited from Dave’s programs. Motorcycles seem to be the initial attraction but it is a lot more than just learning to ride bikes. They learn self confidence, how to work with others and problem solving along with other intangibles. But most of all they get out of the city environment and have a chance to experience the freedom of being outside.
Sometimes Dave takes them to local riding areas. I met the kids at Carnegie and from what I can see it is a very successful program. They are all polite and respectful. Way to go Dave!