Bikes for the World

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kids These Days

Bikes for the World is a great place to earn student service learning hours. It's fun, protects our environment, makes a huge impact on lives around the world, and for the students involved, it's an incredible learning experience.

At Bikes for the World we think it's important to teach students about the cause; to show them why they are volunteering and how that work affects lives. Every project starts with an introduction to our program with an emphasis on the project(s) that will benefit most from their direct service project or hours - whether that's a collection, loading, or bike prepping session in the warehouse. 

This season we had nine collections organized and managed by students who ranged in age from 17 to 13. Between them they collected 561 bikes that will be sent overseas to help improve people's access to work, school, and health services.

Jack, the youngest, was working on his Eagle project with troop 666. He set a goal of 50 bikes, stating in his Eagle Scout Service Project Handbook, "I will continue to stay at my collection until my goal is met." Ensuring that he didn't keep Keith there until midnight, Jack managed to collect, transport, and store 50 bikes before his collection date. He ended up with 105 bikes total.

Collection Managers are responsible for setting up the location, recruiting volunteers, training them, and promoting the event. For students it means interacting with adults in a way many of them never have.

Some students who approach us to do a service project do not live in our immediate area. This comes with the added challenge of sometimes needing to either organize the delivery of bikes to our Arlington warehouse or in some cases storage of the bikes until we can pick them up. Louis organized and executed his entire collection in Pittsburgh without any hands on mentoring from BfW. We were in constant contact with him via email but all the work was overseen by Louis himself.

For Louis, Jackie, and Josephine, all report the hardest part of the collection process was talking with the Media. But it pays off, these three managers collected half of the total number of bikes our nine young managers collected this past season.

Jackie actually got out of school to do a  LIVE interview on WRIC's noon show to help promote her collection at Maggie Walker Governor's School in Richmond last week.

Josephine, a student at Jefferson High School, in addition to talking with reporters, also had to attend a town council meeting to request permission to reserve a space and talk to police to have the street closed. While BfW offers clear, easy steps to doing a collection event, it often requires students to step out of their comfort zones to really make a huge impact in our program. Josie ended up collecting 105 bikes as well.

Josie visited rural areas of the Philippines last summer and saw first hand how important bikes can be to a poor person's access to work, school and medicine. She wanted to make a difference. Many of the bikes she collected were donated last month to rural communities in Costa Rica and Barbados.

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