Crankin' It Out
Lexlyn is a student at Siocon National High School in Mindanao's Compostela Valley in the Philippines. She is also one of our bike beneficiaries AND an accomplished mechanic. Lexlyn earned the nickname "Girl Power" because of her strength and skill. She is also a great role model and mentor for her fellow bike beneficiaries who just received their bikes at the beginning of this school year.
Siocon is one of the newest partner schools chosen by our partner Bikes for the Philippines (BfP). Students who live the greatest distances from school were chosen to receive bikes through this program and also attended a three day training workshop. Beneficiaries are taught road safety, basic bike maintenance skills, and regularly participate in group rides. If students are given the tools and skills to repair or replace flat tires, for example, that's one more skill in their toolbox of knowledge and helps them become more independent.
New riders need to prove they can be self sufficient on a bike in case they encounter any mechanical issues while commuting to school. Many families live several miles away from a bike shop and repairs can be costly. A flat tire repair can cost about 50 cents in a shop, which may seem like a bargain, but for most of our beneficiaries that would mean no lunch for the day.
In order for this program to truly be sustainable, BfP realized they needed to train kids to do more than just grease a chain and even change a tire. What if the chain breaks, or the bikes stops pedaling altogether? Lexlyn took part in an intense training program also developed through BfP. The idea is to train three or four beneficiaries to be able to handle a variety of more complex repairs that are common with maintaining a bicycle. That way their classmates can go to them when something is wrong with their bikes and they don't know how to fix it.
BfP strongly suggests that one female beneficiary be chosen for this training not only to pass those skills on to her, but to show other girls what they are capable of accomplishing. As girls get older some of them become very conscious of what they are doing and how boys in particular view that. Narrow-minded stereotypes associated with using tools, getting dirty, or even sweating while riding a bike limit opportunities available to young women. BfP is committed to helping shatter some of those sexist hang-ups.
All the 'student' mechanics learn how to maintain, repair, and adjust hubs and install brake cables and adjust brakes. They also learn all the parts of a bottom bracket (that thing that makes the pedals go around), and are required to learn how the drive train works in case anything needs to be adjusted or repaired with the gears.
Top above: Lexlyn is showing another female beneficiary how to repair a flat tire on the left and on the right she is wrenching in to adjust a bottom bracket, something many people here have no idea how to do. She is proud to have these new skills, be seen on par with the other boy mechanics, and be available to help any girls who prefer asking her for help over a boy. YOU GO GIRL!