Finding Unity in Community
What do you do when World Teacher Day falls on a Saturday? You form a bike ride to visit all your teachers to say thanks! That's what the bike beneficiaries at SPANHS did this past weekend for their monthly community ride in the Philippines. The kids got together on a Saturday and planned a ride to drop in on all their teachers at home to deliver gifts of appreciation.
The community bike rides are a suggested part of the bike program as established by our partner Bikes for the Philippines. Students who receive bikes are required to learn road safety, basic bike maintenance, and safe riding skills in an initial 3-5 day workshop. Throughout the year they continue to meet on the weekend to do community rides to bond with each other and give back to their communities.
The rides teach the kids how to ride safely as a group and how to interact with traffic. They also help build relationships within their bikes clubs. Last year we told you about Reynaldo and how important these friendships were to him. Even after graduation, we have seen these kids stick together and occasionally they still ride together. It's a bond that lasts a lifetime.
But many of the community rides actually also introduce the kids to the greater community where they live. Some of the bike beneficiaries live so far from school and the center of their towns they've never ventured much further than school. When they receive a bike and start going on these weekend rides their world expands and they are able to experience much more of their home towns than they even knew existed.
For the students at CNHS, one of their first community rides included a lesson in the environment. The bike club decided to use their ride to help pick up trash along the roads. They also carried signs and colored trash bags to increase their advocacy to passing cars and people along the highway to stop littering. They picked up plastic bags that got caught in trees along the roadside and found many discarded plastic bottles that they would recycle.
Previous community rides have included visits to orphanages where the bikers play with the kids and serve as mentors. They have also taken instruments to play tunes for them. Some bike beneficiaries have participated in feeding the hungry and helping to find donated shoes that fit for the kids at the orphanages.
For Bikes for the Philippines Director Joel Uichico these community rides are key to the program. It's not just about creating better bikers, but creating better people. For everyone coming through this program Joel expects to see a change in attitude and so far he has not been disappointed. The student bikers appreciate what they are being given, not just through their teachers, but also through Joel, the bike program, and their bikes. And they firmly believe in Paying it Forward.