Kansas inmates refurbish old bikes to help those in need

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (KWCH) Inmates at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility are giving back to their community through a program called "Wheels for the World."

The program started in 1999 and continues to grow.

Inmates refurbish old bicycle parts and use them to build new bicycles and wheelchairs. The items are then donated to those in need.

"We send bikes out to treatment centers, federal parole and state parole, different non-profit organizations around the State of Kansas to help people around," says inmate Michael Perdue.

Last year, the correctional facility donated 1,200 bicycles around Kansas and more than 600 wheelchairs to other countries.

"It helps the guys grow as individuals by showing them new skills they didn't know helping them get a good work habit getting them used to getting up in the morning showing up to work every day and being accountable," says Sgt. Phillip Decouteau.

The inmates do make money working for the program. One inmate said he makes $1.05 per hour working for the program, but he says he isn't in it just to make money.

"We affect peoples lives and we make a change, a positive change," says inmate David Summers.

Inmate Jerome Forbes agrees.

"If I can give back you know for some less fortunate family or unexpecting child to have a good Christmas this year you know that's a win in my book," he says.

Sgt Decouteau says the bicycles are donated as often as every couple weeks. The wheelchairs are sent to overseas twice a year.