ELORA – Todd Willoughby, an Elora physical education and outdoor teacher, provides repairs, tune-ups and safety checks for all types of non-electric bicycles and scooters in support of the Portage Elora mountain biking to help introduce at-risk youth to sport.
âBasically how it works, people will pay whatever they need for parts, but labor is donation based,â Willoughby said in an interview with the Advertiser.
âI keep half of it for myself, then the other half goes to Portage.
Portage Ontario, a non-profit organization established in 1985, operates a residential addiction rehabilitation center in Elora for youth aged 14 to 18.
The organization has helped tens of thousands of people regain control of their lives through specialized drug treatment programs in various centers across Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada.
An average stay is six months, followed by 18 months of follow-up in the community of origin.
The Elora facility includes the Portage Academy, which offers on-site school programs through the Upper Grand District School Board.
Willoughby, who has taught physical and outdoor education at Portage Academy for 12 years, said before the pandemic mountain biking had become very popular in Portage.
âWe were really limited. In a typical year we would cycle down to Lake Guelph once a week and spend an afternoon cycling, âhe said.
âWe haven’t been able to do all of this in the last year and a half. Hopefully in the fall we can get back to it.
Willoughby said he has been offering bike repairs from his Elora home for a few months now.
âIt’s normally something I do with my students every year,â he said.
âEvery year, I teach them to ride a bike. We will fix our school bikes, they will learn to work on those bikes, then we will bring bikes from the community and work on donation basis, then use that money to help pay for maintenance on our bikes.
Willoughby said without in-person lessons this year he missed bike repairs, so he started doing them in his garage instead.
âI basically do it in the evenings, on weekends and in my spare time,â Willoughby said.
He stressed that he is not trying to compete with local bike shops for business.
âI don’t want to sound like I’m trying to steal stuff from the local bike shops because they’re great guys,â Willoughby said.
âI’m a guy who tries to do little repairs, but for people who really need to do proper things, the bike shop in town is a good place for them.â
In an e-mail to Advertiser, Portage Development Director Ashley-Ann Maginnis said being active and going out is a way for young people to cope and manage their challenges.
âThe end of this pandemic is in sight, and we are about to venture into a new crisis,â Maginnis said.
âThe number of young people suffering from isolation, causing increased self-harm and finding relief in substances is alarming. “
Maginnis described Willoughby’s support of the Portage community as âheartwarmingâ.
âHer dedication to our residents by providing them with an outlet such as cycling is a very important part of our program,â she said.
“We are so proud of him and all of our staff, who continue to go above and beyond the expectations of at-risk youth.”
Maginnis added that Portage Ontario has been fortunate to have the support of the community for the past 35 years.
At this point, Willoughby has raised $ 300 in donations from people who had their bikes repaired with him.
Willoughby said people can email him at [email protected] to inquire about the repairs.